CPV: Some good news!

It is always a pleasure to be able to share good news – in a field of work that is too often full of pain and frustration. So I was thrilled to hear about the recent award to Sue Pearson, Education Officer for the Leeds Youth Offending Team, by the Butler Trust, in recognition of ‘the empathy and skill she brings to her “life-changing” work with troubled families, and for the dedication and compassion she demonstrates in addressing the issue of child-to-parent violence’.

Sue received her award from HRH The Princess Royal. (Photo from Butler Trust)

 

Sue helped to develop the PACT (Parent and Children Together) programme in 2012; a 12-week programme working with mothers, and their sons and daughters, in a way that is recognised as healing and transformative by colleagues and parents alike. You can read more about the award, and the background to Sue’s work and nomination here.

I have met Sue at numerous conferences and networking events. It is a privilege to hear her speak about her work, and I am thrilled to be able to add my congratulations to those of the Butler Trust.

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VAWG Strategy: Lack of Progress update for CPV

The Home Office published its latest VAWG Strategy papers this week, with the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls 2016 – 2020 Strategy Refresh, and the Ending Violence against Women and Girls Action Plan 2016 – 2020 Progress Update. Once again, I was disappointed to see that there was no mention of children’s and adolescent’s violence and abuse towards their parents, though not entirely surprised since it is has not featured as a specific issue since 2014, and only one line mention in 2016. The irony is that, at a local level, many areas are now developing their own strategic response; but by omitting this aspect of violence and abuse from central government documents – and thinking – it remains invisible, unconsidered, and unimaginable for too many people.

You may have heard me argue that we should not necessarily be conceptualising CPVA or APVA as domestic violence anyway, so why am I so peeved? Well of course, the VAWG strategy is not exclusively concerned with what we typically think of as domestic abuse, including also issues such as FGM and honour based violence, sexual violence, and stalking, as well as teenage relationship abuse. There seem to be a lot of similarities in the way parents experience violence and abuse from partners – and from their children; and there are strong links to the experience of previous abuse in the home, and the later expression of violence by the young person. But we now hear from families where their experience is very different, and they seriously struggle with the notion – and labelling – of their children as DA perpetrators: where there are learning difficulties for instance, or where there has been past experience of severe trauma in the child’s life. The more we learn from families, the more we see that there is no one clear profile, no one distinct causal link, and we see that the response that each family requires must be tailored to their specific needs. Nevertheless, by omitting CPVA and APVA from the VAWG strategy, an opportunity is lost to remind commissioners, and practitioners, that this is ‘a thing’, that in some ways it can be understood as an aspect of DA, that the gendered nature of it adds to the abuse that women and girls experience in other ways, and that this remains an under-recognised and under-tackled problem for significant numbers of families.

Many of the Action Points could impact positively on the recognition and response to CPVA. Relationships education in schools, work with gangs, the supporting of whole family approaches to DA work, work within health and housing encouraging practitioners to ask and respond appropriately, partnership working across agencies,  developing better data sets – these are all elements of work that are needed to underpin the recognition, response and resolution of violence and abuse from children to parents. But while Government continues to fail to name the problem, it is too easy for the issue to remain hidden, unrecognised, brushed over. You may feel that you want to take this up and lobby for it to be recognised at higher levels. I plan to publish some suggestions and guidance for this in the next month.

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A Practitioner’s Guide!

I am proud to announce that the book I have been working on for the last year is due for publication very soon!

 

Child to Parent Violence and Abuse, a Practitioner’s Guide to Working with Families, published by Pavilion, is the culmination of my collecting testimony over a much longer period of time – listening particularly to families for their insights into the kinds of support which have been helpful, or not. At the same time, social workers, schools workers, practitioners within housing, domestic abuse, the police, and health have also shared their experiences both of successful interventions and of the horror of not knowing how to help. I have tried to make it accessible and practical. By that I mean that it is not particularly academic, though there are plenty of references to follow up for those who want a more academic approach; and it is full of suggestions of things to think about and to do, as well as  places to find resources or more information. I fear I may have disappointed anyone hoping for a step by step, walk-you-through every possible scenario. As we learn more about child to parent violence and abuse, we see that each family’s situation and experience is unique to them and so it would be impossible to cover every eventuality. There are, however, enough commonalities to offer clear guidelines, based on an understanding of the issues, and a challenge to put aside myths and stereotypes.

Whether you work with families full time or once in a while, whether you consider ourself highly experienced or just starting out, whether you are in a statutory setting or a small voluntary group, I hope there will be something in there for everyone who encounters this issue, to enable you to feel better equipped to offer families the support they so desperately need.

I would like to acknowledge and thank all those who have made this possible, whether through talking about their own experiences, sharing research and thinking, or offering encouragement and practical help; and of course Pavilion over the last months for the publication process itself.

This is just a taster! I hope to be able to offer more news soon.

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Supporting research into child to parent violence

From time to time I am approached by individuals conducting research in this field, with a view to broadening their reach in attracting participants, or in assistance in completing surveys. I am always happy to help where I can, and to this end, I want to bring your attention to some work being conducted by Fiona Creevy, a PhD Researcher at the University of Huddersfield.

Fiona is investigating “child-initiated family abuse” from the parents’ perspective. Her work is concerned with the views of parents (and those in a parenting role) experiencing violent and/or abusive behaviour from their children under the age of 18. She is using an online questionnaire, accessed via a number of websites which offer advice and support to parents and families.

The research has been approved by the University’s ethics panel and participants remain anonymous. There is an option at the end to volunteer to take part in an interview to further the research. Fiona hopes it might bring about a deeper understanding of the individual factors involved, and perhaps find a definition that people feel comfortable with.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can find more information (including contact names if you have further questions), consent forms, and the full questionnaire by following this link.

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A response to the proposed changes to Domestic Abuse legislation in Britain

These comments are my own and do not necessarily represent those of other parties working and interested in the field of child to parent violence.

I have used the terms adolescent to parent abuse (APA), adolescent to parent violence (APV), child to parent violence (CPV), and parent abuse (PA) interchangeably, except where this has been made clear, to reflect the different usage at different times and by different people.

 

This week the Government published their landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, alongside the response to the Consultation, Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse. The Consultation looked at four specific areas:

  • promoting awareness
  • protecting and supporting victims
  • transforming the justice process and perpetrator response
  • and improving performance.

The Consultation Response and the Bill have been welcomed by many, particularly for the inclusion of economic abuse within the definition, recognition of the harm afforded to children and young people affected by domestic abuse (DA) within the family, for the protection afforded to victims and witnesses in court, and for the commitments to secure tenancies for those being rehoused. Nevertheless, there has been significant concern expressed about the need to translate words into actions, with adequate funding of services. Particular interest groups have rightly pointed out areas where they feel commitments could have been stronger, or where a change of direction is needed. Continue reading

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CPV: Fighting for a kinder, person-centred response in the future

For the last few years it seems, in amongst all my other CPV posts, I have thought, discussed, and posted a lot about the experiences of adoptive parents experiencing violence or abuse from their children, but this year feels already like there’s going to be a lot of attention – rightly so – given to those struggling with the behaviour of their children with learning difficulties or disabilities. With the treatment of children and young people in assessment units very much in the news, expect to hear even more! For many, the conflation of this type of behaviour – identified as a response to anxiety and stress in the face of unreasonable (and often very reasonable) expectations – with deliberate, manipulative acts of violence and control from some neuro-typical children does not sit easily. Indeed, Yvonne Newbold has coined the term Violent Challenging Behaviour to make this distinction.

This post, Time to breathe out, from a mum blogging about Life with Aine, starts us off. Continue reading

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CPV: Standing together

I am breaking my silence.

I am breaking my silence for any person who is a stepparent, and they are living in a dangerous situation at the hands of their stepchildren.

I am breaking my silence because I know what it is like to scourer the internet trying to find someone or some resource to signal that I was not alone.

So begins a post from Dr Sam Kline. You can read the rest of the post here, and there is the promise of a follow up on her site in a week or so. You will recognise many of her comments: Continue reading

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