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Experiences of Younger Siblings of Young Men in Prison


*Rosie Meek, Social Psychology Research Group, Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK, Tel.: 01963 359418; Fax: 01273 678058. E-mail:


Whilst the detrimental effects of forced separation through incarceration have been explored in the context of parent–child relationships, little is known about the social and psychological impact of having a sibling in custody. The present research was carried out in order to develop a better understanding of the needs and experiences of children who have a sibling in prison and is based on an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the accounts of eight young people (age 9–17, mean = 13 years) with an older brother in custody. The interviews revealed a series of themes, including the emotional response to a sibling being taken into custody, a reluctance to disclose information to teachers and peers, and perceptions of own behaviour in the light of the sibling's experiences of the criminal justice system. Findings are discussed in relation to policy implications and recommendations for those working with young people, and suggestions are made for future research directions.