Understanding CAPVA: a rapid literature review

Last week saw the launch of a report commissioned by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office and produced by Respect, Understanding CAPVA – a rapid literature review of child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA). I was privileged to co-author the report with Dr Vicky Baker, who recently completed her PhD at UCLan, exploring young people’s accounts of using violence and abuse towards parents.

One of the purposes of the review was very explicitly to identify gaps in knowledge and provision, with a view to exploring how these needs should and could be met. The report is in two parts, looking first at our understanding of the issue – what we know, what CAPVA looks like, who it effects and some of the theories about how it comes about; and then in part 2, how it is addressed. Finally there are a significant number of recommendations made, both in terms of further research and, importantly, in the way it is gripped by government in departmental oversight, funding and provision.

The recommendations section is not insignificant! In some ways it’s frustrating to think we are still here in making some of the requests after so many years of pressure and campaigning. For instance, the call for a nationally agreed terminology and the proper collection of data seem to have been around for ever. Recommendations about the type of response needed though are becoming more refined as we learn more and have opportunities to work with colleagues to examine how we can work together and what this should look like and include.

One recommendation covers the importance of updating the Home Office Guidance which was originally written and published in 2015. Thankfully this is now well underway and we look forward to seeing the final document (in the next year?)

Obviously I commend the report to you! It is hopefully easy to read, despite covering so much ground in significant detail. It should be of interest particularly to commissioners and policy makers, as well as those within central government whose remit covers any aspect of family life; but the overview of the literature on this topic makes it an important summary for all involved in supporting families, whether in management or on the frontline.

The full report is here.

The Executive Summary is here.

You can read Vicky Baker’s PhD thesis here.

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Positive feedback

People who know me will probably tell you that I tend to shy away from conflict. Not quite “peace at all costs”, but nearly so. I’m sure it’s something I’ve carried from my childhood and, as I’m more aware of it, I reflect on when it can be a helpful stance to take – or not!

It’s something I hear of a lot, listening to parents who are living with violence and abuse from their children, as they become more and more restricted in the space they have and the lives they live in an attempt not to trigger ‘an incident’. Something that can seem helpful at the time perhaps, but ultimately this is going in only one direction. 

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Child to Parent Abuse Covenant

Time and time again I hear about the impact that child to parent violence and abuse can have on a parent’s ability to maintain employment. Whether in terms of embarrassment about injuries or taking time off sick; or having to be at home to supervise a child excluded from school, many parents have told me about the strain this places on their working life, often leading to a decision (not always voluntary) to leave a job, with all the changes this brings in terms of finances, social contact, and even housing.

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CPV: Challenging (my) assumptions

In early research it was reported (Charles) that child to parent violence (CPV) was an issue more likely to be found in white families, as black or Hispanic parenting practice was considered to offer greater protection through a more rigid and traditional style. And yet, in Britain, we see Afro-Caribbean young people over-represented in the police statistics when the figures are broken down. For many years now, children and young people’s violence and abuse towards their parents has been documented right around the world, whether through research or via media reporting. When I was studying the issue in 2005, I came across stories from Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Malta, and Nepal. Amanda Holt references work from both north and south America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Iran, India, and Sri Lanka; and of course we have research too from New Zealand, Japan and Egypt. Simmons et al suggest that this is a phenomenon of industrialised nations wherever they are. But how do we interpret this sort of information, and what conclusions do we draw? What do assertions and data such as these really tell us about what is going on? What assumptions underlie the work we do?

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Practitioners’ Networks

It’s always encouraging to be able to share with peers, to hear of new developments and learning, swap tips and good practice, and offer advice and ideas when things get tricky. In a relatively new area such as Child to Parent Violence and Abuse we are all learning, and so opportunities to hear from others involved in similar work, whether through formal learning or through less formal sharing and discussion are much appreciated and sought after!

There are 2 such opportunities coming up:

Family Based Solutions instituted a professionals’ network during lockdown, and their next session is on October 18th. More details here.

If you work in Sussex and can’t wait that long there is a newly established Sussex Child to Parent Abuse Network, a shared venture between The Rita Project and Capa First Response, which has its inaugural meeting on December 9th*, supporting professionals working with families across the county. More information and booking here.

Please do make use of these opportunities, and also check out the Directory to see if there are other agencies near where you are based, to promote further opportunities to learn and grow together. I am always happy to post announcements such as these, so let me know if there are other similar networks out there!

*Please note change of date from that originally posted.

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Raising awareness #FASD

You may have noticed on social media that today (September 9th) is International FASD awareness day – and in fact the whole of September is FASD awareness month! FASD (which stands for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) is now recognised as affecting more people than autism or ADHD. FASD is a group of lifelong conditions affecting people in different ways physically, emotionally and behaviourally, and because not everyone will be affected in the same way it is not always diagnosed early on. As a developmental condition there is no cure, but early diagnosis is important in order to be able to put support systems in place to help families cope and thrive.

Because some of the effects of alcohol on the developing foetus relate to later difficulties in processing information or in regulating emotions (for instance) some children with FASD will show patterns of difficult and challenging behaviour, sometimes using violence in the home and towards their parents and carers. Understanding more about FASD can help with understanding what is going on behind child to parent violence, and can be an important start in putting in place the networks and systems that are so vital for families in this situation.

The National Organisation for FASD is a good place to start (in the UK) if you want to develop your own awareness and understanding. There is a very helpful Preferred UK Language Guide on their website. Sandra Butcher, their CEO has been busy tweeting all day and you will find a lot of links to other resources from her, and news of anticipated policy changes.

If you’re on social media and you want to keep in touch with the latest research findings, policy and training, these are some people that I have found helpful to follow:

There are many more, I’m sure you’ll find the people who you can connect to best!

FASD is just one of the many different issues which can lead to families experiencing CPV. Its good to see that this condition is closer to getting the attention it deserves.

See the Government website for Guidance published September 9th on health needs assessment of families affected by Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

To download factsheets about FASD produced by FASD Hub Scotland click here.

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In July, the Government published the draft statutory guidance on Domestic Abuse with a consultation period ending on 14th September 2021.

The key objectives of the guidance are to:

  • provide clear information on what domestic abuse is in order to assist with its identification
  • provide guidance and support to frontline professionals, who have responsibilities for safeguarding and supporting victims of domestic abuse, for example through outlining relevant strategic and operational frameworks
  • improve the institutional response to domestic abuse by conveying best practice and standards for commissioning responses

The guidance extends to England and to Wales insofar as it relates to reserved or non-devolved matters in Wales. 

You will find links to various versions of the draft guidance and information on how to submit a response. 

Child/adolescent to parent violence is specifically mentioned on pages 20 – 23, including an illustrative case study; and there is discussion about age on page 36, the impact on a child of living with domestic abuse from page 59; and chapter 5 deals with multi-agency cooperation. However, there is real value in reading the whole document, with a recognition of the many different vulnerabilities experienced by families, and multiple points of discrimination and stigma. 

Whether or not CPV should be considered as a form of DA remains a contentious issue, but, nevertheless, it is contained within the Act and strong arguments have been made regarding the connections with DA. So regardless of whether you feel this is the right place for a response to be sited, please do take the time to read the draft guidance and consider whether there are comments you can usefully make to improve the document – and policy and practice – as it stands. 

Thank you!

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Do you know about the Forensic CAMHS service?

I must confess I hadn’t heard of Community Forensic CAMHS services, so it was interesting to sit down (virtually) with Dr. Andrew Newman from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to hear all about the work they do. The service is quite new, established nationally around 3 years ago, although already operating in some areas prior to that. Currently it covers all of England, divided into 13 regions. As a highly specialist service, the regions are large and Andy works within the South West (North) Community CAMHS service, covering Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Wiltshire, Swindon, Bath and North East Somerset.

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Familial IDVAs

IDVAs (Independent domestic violence advisors) are front line practitioners with specialist training in delivering practical and emotional support to victims of domestic abuse, and their children. While the vast majority of clients will have experienced violence and abuse from a partner or ex-partner, a small percentage of the work involves what is termed “familial violence”, and I was pleased to be able to speak with 2 Familial IDVAs recently to hear more about what they are able to offer.

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Research into child to parent violence and abuse in London

I have been asked by Amanda Holt to post this request for practitioners based in London to consider taking part in an important research project. The surge in interest in child to parent violence and abuse over the last year has been truly impressive, and this research, commissioned by the London Violence Reduction Unit, seeks to move beyond interest to understanding, and then hopefully on to provision.

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