“Abrazos”: a Series That Narrates the Experiences of Children with Incarcerated Relatives

November 29, 2022

Watch the full Abrazos series here.

Following the launch of the animated series Abrazos, one of the young participants commented, “the series displays what we went through without belittling us. It expresses what many of us feel but cannot express.” Program participants Manuel, Estefanny, Felicia, and Cris shared their view of the videos, which tell the stories of children and adolescents who, like them, went through difficult situations. One of them shared, “The videos show what children feel and help them release their sadness.”

We celebrate this project, which was led by the NNAPES Platform in alliance with the Pakapaka Channel, the Open Society Foundations, and CWS, and was brought to life by Inauta. These are the first Spanish-language children’s videos to feature the voices and experiences of children with incarcerated parents.

Each episode focuses on a situation that children and adolescents may experience at some point during the incarceration of a family member such as assuming adult roles, visiting a relative in a detention center, and being subjected to discrimination and stigma in their schools or communities. Many of the children and adolescents are CWS program participants and participated in the production/creative process of the episodes. Their participation included sharing their opinions and experiences and volunteering their voices for the characters.

The videos are each accompanied by an educational guide for parents and teachers.

“We are thrilled because our main objective is to give visibility to the reality that 2.5 million children and adolescents experience in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Lía Fernández from the NNAPES Platform. Cielo Salviolo, director of the Pakapaka Channel, commented that “the series was made with a lot of love and respect.” She said, “We are very excited about the final product, but even more so about the process.”

This is a major success in terms of inclusion and representation for the 2.5 million children and youth that are impacted by the effects of parental incarceration. So far the videos have been shown in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Recent studies by Common Sense Media show that representation is critical for children of all ages. Children who see positive representations of themselves in media have more positive feelings about themselves and are likely to be happier. High-quality media representation promotes positive interactions with unaffected children and youth who might otherwise be unaware of the challenges and isolation that children with incarcerated parents face. Reducing stigmatization and increasing empathy will lead to better mental health for this vulnerable group.

Church World Service supports the work of Plataforma NNAPES in advancing this critical issue through this video series as well as the 10+ years of advocacy work that supports the rights of children and youth with incarcerated parents.