Job opportunity at Respect

An opportunity exists to lead one of Respect’s flagship projects as a Young People’s Service Development Manager, and I am excited to share the advertisement here.

 

This is an exciting opportunity to join Respect in a key role. Respect’s Young People’s Services have a well-established profile and reputation. Respect has developed:

  • an intervention addressing adolescent to parent violence and abuse which is delivered by around 20 local Authorities and
  • training and materials on working with young people who use abusive behaviour in intimate relationships.

Respect is committed to developing this area of our work and improving the response to young people who use violence and abuse in close relationships.

We are looking for an outstanding individual to lead, develop and manage Respect’s Young People’s Services Project.  Someone with a mix of skills including:

  • An understanding of practice in addressing young people’s use of abuse in close relationships.
  • A track record in developing service delivery innovations with young people or a related area
  • Understanding of the challenges in work with young people and their families and who can support practice development
  • Ability to develop new approaches and grow existing ones

Location   Flexible – Respect offices are in Bethnal Green, London, but this post will have a UK-wide remit and travel to service providers both to undertaking assessments and provide support will be part of the role.

Salary £41,722 pro rata (point 42 on Respect’s scale, related to the NJC scale) including Inner London Weighting where relevant; plus 6% pension contribution

Contract           Negotiable between full time and 3 days a week

Closing date     5pm, 6th June 2019

Interviews       17th June 2019

To apply: download the Young-Peoples-Services-Development-Manager-JDPS ; complete an employment application form and an equality monitoring form and send to info@respect.uk.net

Please do not send us a CV.  No agencies.

Respect are committed to quality, equality and valuing diversity and applications are particularly welcome from black and minority ethnic candidates.

The post will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

Respect registered charity no: 1141636

More information also available here.

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CPV around the world: discussion and support.

I keep my eyes on a number of websites, discussion forums and journals, looking for content about child to parent violence. If you haven’t come across the website, Raising Devon, from Keri Williams, it’s well worth a look for information, comment and colour about living with children with conduct and attachment disorders in particular.

Annie watched in horror as Charlie, red-faced with rage, snatched a picture frame off a wall and slammed it against the bedpost. The glass shattered. He picked up a long shard and brandished it like a dagger. Stalking towards Annie, he growled, “I’m gonna kill you.”

This type of abusive behavior in relationships is far too common. 29% of women and 10% of men in the US will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Child protective services investigates more than three million reports of abuse and neglect annually. However, Charlie and Annie’s altercation isn’t included in either of these statistics.

That’s because Charlie is a 13-year-old boy. And Annie is his mother……

In this recent post, Keri talks about the hidden nature of violence and abuse from children, and the assumptions that other people make about what is going on “next door”. She writes from America, but many of the stories will feel familiar wherever you are, speaking as she does to the relief of finding you are not alone, and the importance of support from people who really understand your situation. She links in this particular post to an article in the Atlantic by a colleague of hers, Lillyth Quillan, and an online support network developed in the States, but now attracting parents from around the world. Lillyth Quillan is the executive director of the organisation, Society for Treatment Options for Potential Psychopaths. 

Depending on where you live, you might feel more or less comfortable with some of the language and terminology, but stick with it!

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#CPV on Drivetime

A huge thank you to Eddie Nestor, of BBC Radio London Drivetime, who devoted more than half his programme yesterday to the topic of “children who hit their Mum.” You can catch the programme by following this link. The show is available till the end of May. Eddie starts off by interviewing Yvonne Newbold from about 1:21.00 and then takes calls from around 1:48:00.

 

With Yvonne’s particular area of expertise, the focus was on children with “special educational needs and disabilities”, but Eddie was keen to find out more about the wider reasons which might lead to children being violent. There was considerable treatment of the issues around traditional parenting, and the tendency to assume that parents just aren’t trying hard enough, but as Yvonne and several of the callers explained, in situations like this, traditional parenting techniques may have the effect of adding fuel to the fire; and if you’ve tried everything and it isn’t working, you have to try something else. Several of the callers had attended Yvonne’s seminars and were highly appreciative of the impact this had made on their family life. You can find out more about these courses via Yvonne’s website, or on Eventbrite. There was also acclaim for NVR as an approach to enable de-escalation and restoration of parental authority. Finally, Eddie spoke to Sarah Whalley of the Key Clinic exploring other issues behind the challenging behaviour of young people on the autistic spectrum.

Overall, there was a sense of how confusing people find this issue – the difficulty in believing it could be happening and that it can’t simply be solved by ‘parenting harder’, but also a real desire to find out more and to be able to offer hope to parents through the provision of answers and support. This is very much an interest of Eddie’s and he is keen to explore this taboo further in future programmes. Do look out for him, and add your voice if you can in raising awareness of the issues!

 

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Living with a child with mental illness who is violent

It would be so much easier if we could point to one clear cause of violence and abuse from children towards their parents. Once that was made obvious we could then wheel in bespoke solutions and solve the crisis in an instant. Sadly the reality is much different, with almost no end to the factors that might increase vulnerability, and often layer upon layer of complexity for families affected. Some situations get a (relatively) large amount of coverage: exposure to domestic violence and early childhood trauma for instance. Others are highlighted less often. While each family’s experience will be unique to them, there is much to learn from the experience of others, and the despair that is common to parents across the board.

Recently, Keri Williams posted on her blog a review of an HBO documentary, A Dangerous Son, a film about families with sons who have disorders giving rise to explosive and violent behaviour. (The trailer is available here if you are not in the US.) Psychology today also has a review of the film, and in interview with the featured parents. Both draw attention to the blog written by Liza Long shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Thinking the Unthinkable, which inspired the Director of the documentary, Liz Garbus.

The 90-minute film features three mothers who struggle immensely to find proper help for their emotionally disturbed sons. Audience members who had never dealt with children facing severe mental illness described the piece as heartbreaking and difficult to watch. However, parents of mentally ill children displayed a very different reaction; they felt a sense of validation and hope. They believe that this film could serve as the first major step in changing the public’s judgmental perception of children with mental illness and their families. Parents should be supported, rather than shamed, by their communities. (Psychology Today)

The hope is that the film draws attention to the needs of families for help, the misunderstandings around childhood mental health, the paucity of provision for young people, and the difficulties in accessing help.

Keri invites comments on her blog in response to her post. As always, you are welcome to join in the conversation here as well.

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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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