Millions of children will spend this Father’s Day without the company of their incarcerated dads, many of which will miss their kid’s entire childhood. Fortunately, Google’s latest project #LoveLetters is allowing children to send video Father’s Day cards straight to their imprisoned dads.
According to USA Today, the effort was headed by non-profit organizations Pops the Club and Place4Grace with the help of Google. #LoveLetters is designed to help kids and teens make contact with their absent fathers as well as draw attention to the problem of mass incarceration in the United States.
Google initiated a similar project for Mother’s Day, allowing children to send messages of love and hope to their imprisoned mothers with the help of criminal justice groups. The videos were such a success that Google continued the effort, collecting a series of digital Father’s Day cards to be distributed to prisons on Sunday, June 19.
— RollingOut (@RollingOut) June 18, 2016
You can see a sample of the heart-wrenching Father’s Day videos at the top of the page. The participants range from high school teenagers, to kids as young as 9. Seeing the tears of a child who can’t be with her dad on Father’s Day helps drive home the point of the problem with imprisonment in the United States.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report in April outlining the detrimental effects that a father’s absence has on a child’s upbringing. In many cases, an incarcerated father can be as damaging to the child’s development as abuse.
“These children feel the absence of that adult — whether it is several nights in jail or years in prison — in myriad ways, even if they weren’t sharing a home. They feel it when their refrigerator is bare because their family has lost a source of income or child support. They feel it when they have to move, sometimes repeatedly, because their families can no longer afford the rent or mortgage. And they feel it when they hear the whispers in school, at church or in their neighborhood about where their mother or father has gone.”
The Father’s Day “Love Letters” video claims that children can suffer from depression, anxiety and even a form of post traumatic stress disorder from the shock of suddenly losing a father, who is often one of the child’s most important support systems.
One of the kids in the video already lost more than a decade with her father, and he will continue to be absent this Father’s Day.
“I can’t wait for you to be out here, and for us to try and make up the past 13 years,” she says.
Not only is the Father’s Day #LoveLetters project helping these kids reach out to their fathers to maintain a relationship, Google is also helping to raise awareness about the injustices of incarceration in the United States. Though the country only contains about 5 percent of the entire planet’s population, 25 percent of all imprisoned individuals are from the United States.
Institutionalized racism is also a problem among incarcerated individuals. Black children are reportedly 7.5 times more likely to have a parent in prison than whites. But Google’s Father’s Day videos are not the only efforts the company is making to stop this injustice. In February, Google announced that they would be focusing their efforts on racial justice and donated $3 million to organizations working to fix the problem.
— Versie Timpson (@VersieTimpson) June 18, 2016
“The videos reveal a side of mass incarceration that many people don’t get a chance to see,” said Malika Saada Saar from Google’s government relations senior counsel for civil and human rights. “They allow us to bear witness, to be proximate to the very human cost of incarceration.”
How are you spending this Father’s Day? Do you believe the children in the video have a right to spend Father’s Day with their dads?
See what else Google is doing for Father’s Day by reading about this year’s Google Doodle.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]