Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Dad locked up

Hiya Sam.

I got a missed phone call, and I googled it to find it to be a prisoners payphone. I didn't answer the phone call, but knowing my dad to have been in jail in the past, and also knowing him to be a criminal, I'm worried it is my dad.

What can I do?


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Getting a missed call from a number you don’t recognise can make you feel stressed or anxious when you don’t know who the call was from or the reason for the call. It can feel especially worrying when there is a specific person you're uncomfortable speaking to.

When you don’t know where a family member is living or what they're doing it can be a shock to suddenly hear from them. Remember that you don’t have to respond straight away. Take some time to decide the right thing for you to do.

Try talking to a trusted adult about how you're feeling and whether you would like to speak to the family member or not. Think about your safety and whether you're in any danger by talking to them. You can choose to not reply to any calls or messages or you can think about changing your number if you don’t want to be contacted in the future. If you decide you want to try to speak with them, you could make a plan of what to do if there is another call or how you might contact them safely.

There are lots of reasons for not regularly seeing a close family member. You may have decided to stop seeing them, they may have stopped contacting you or sometimes contact is stopped by services or other family members. Whatever the reasons, you may experience feelings of loss and it can help to talk and get support by contacting a Childline counsellor.

In some cases it may not be safe for you to see this person and the Police, Courts or Social Services may have decided that they're not allowed to contact you. If this is the case, you would need to report this possible attempt to speak to you to the Police or Social Services so that they can protect you.

Lots of families keep in contact while a parent is in prison through phone calls, letters and visits unless it has been decided that the person is a risk to you or they are in prison because of harm that they have caused you, or because of serious harm to others. It’s ok for you to ask your family or carers if anything has been decided on your behalf and you can speak to Social Services if you are unsure.

​And remember our counsellors are always here for you if you need support.

Take care


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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