Social Games Against Crime

Social Games Against Crime

Today, there are around 4.000 prisoners in Denmark. Most of them have children living outside the prison walls. Around 3 percent of all Danish children have at some point in their life experienced the imprisonment of a parent. This may have a damaging effect on their development. Children with parents in prison have more difficulties learning in school, often suffers from eating disorders, stigmatization, depression and anxiety. Children with imprisoned parents also have higher risk of committing crime themselves. The overall aim of the Social Games against Crime project is through development and implementing of so-called serious social games, played by imprisoned fathers and their children in the prisons’ visiting rooms, to help children build resilience towards many of the personal and social challenges they may experience because of their father being imprisoned. By both facilitating good conversations between the fathers and their children and by making it more fun for the children to visit their fathers in prison.

Time period:


Target group:

Children aged 11-18 with imprisoned fathers.

Number of participants:

Three closed Danish prisons, approx. 30-40 children and their imprisoned fathers.


The treatment runs during 2017 and aims to create more high quality interactions between children and their imprisoned fathers in order to increase child resilience towards personal and social consequences of an imprisonment. In the treatment, social games are offered to children and youth during their visits in three closed Danish prisons: Enner Mark, Nyborg Prison, and Søbysøgård Prison.  The games approach relevant topics and taboos that may be connected to imprisonment, crime and the separation between a child and the imprisoned father. The treatment takes outset in children’s needs of, during a visit in prison, to experience present and good contact, meaningful conversations and a demystification of life in prison.

With Prison and Probation Service’s introduction of the ‘Child responsibility agreement’ and establishment of more family friendly visitation sections in Danish prisons, national initiatives have been launched in order to increase the well-being and conditions of inmates’ children. These initiatives have international research recommendations has their starting point, which highlights the importance of giving children the opportunity of having and developing a positive relationship to an imprisoned father in order to enabling the children to build resilience. While Prison and Probation Service primarily have been focusing on the smaller children, this project aims to make an initiative to children aged 11-18.

The games are closely developed  with children and youth in the target group, with imprisoned fathers, with prison guards with special responsibility in connection to children visiting the prison as well as SAVN’s family therapists.


The effect of implementing social games in the visitation program in closed prisons is evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Before and after the treatment, a survey with acknowledged questions regarding the relationship between children and fathers and the quality of their interactions during visits will be filled out. During the treatment, an evaluation study more specifically concerned with social games’ meaning in the relationship between children and imprisoned fathers will be made with potential effects on children’s resilience in mind.


Prison and Probation Service, SAVN, Design Against Crime, University of the Arts and Delft University of Technology.    


The first results are expected in 2018.


No publications yet.


Read more about the project Social Games Against Crime (SAC).