I am continually encouraged by the openness and indeed willingness of the BBC and other media to tackle the issue of child to parent violence and abuse. When I am contacted there is a recognition that this is an important emerging topic; and there is an understanding of the prevailing myths and that a more nuanced explanation is called for than simply attributing it to poor parenting. More than this though, I frequently hear “we covered it a while ago and promised were would come back to it later”, and ” we need to raise awareness”.
This week, for instance, BBC Radio Kent made it a feature on their Wake Up Call programme (available till the middle of October), and episode 38 of the current series of the hospital drama, Holby City (also available until mid October), includes a story line about child to parent violence in amongst the relationship crises with which it is regularly strewn!
Making this a commonplace event helps families to recognise that other people are experiencing something similar, it breaks down isolation, and it makes it easier to find the words to describe the problems and ask for help. It also has the potential to generate a greater understanding in the wider population. So thank you BBC and thank you to all the other outlets which cover this issue!
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a colleague about our separate work around child to parent violence (CPV). As we rounded things up, a third person, who had been listening in, asked if they might make a comment. They told of a friend’s difficulties with their child, and commented that they had not thought about it in these terms before. I wasn’t surprised. Almost without fail, when I talk about my interest and work, whether at a conference, a party, to someone I know or a complete stranger, someone will seek me out later – ask for my contact details, request a private conversation, or perhaps share their own experience there and then. Barbara Cottrell first recorded this same experience in her book, When Teens Abuse their Parents. I have heard of similar experiences when a media outlet has covered this or another aspect of family violence. Suddenly there is much to-ing and fro-ing in the corridors, as reporters or other staff find someone safe to disclose their concerns to.
But more than this. I have been at gatherings where I have looked round and easily identified 10% of the group who have already confided in me. Yet the other 90% of people there may not be aware of the difficulties they face, for all manner of reasons. We know there are many things that cause parents to hold back The overwhelming shame of their experience may mean that they feel unable to broach the issue even with a best friend. The minimising as it becomes the norm may mean that families do not recognise their experience as abusive. They may fear the opprobrium of others, or a backlash from their child. They may believe there is nothing anyone can do anyway.
We still don’t have a definitive idea of the prevalence of child to parent violence and abuse. The figure of 10% is one which is regularly offered. It comes from a number of places, dating back to the early ‘counting’ in the US. Various research studies have suggested that it offers the best figure we have. Some (eg Gallagher) have questioned whether 10% is too high, including too broad a definition. Others (Routt and Anderson) suggest that the figures we have represent only the tip of the iceberg and so the likely number is much higher. Certainly, within some vulnerable group (such as adopters) the incidence has been suggested to be much greater.
All of which leads me to the conclusions that 1) the experience of violence and abuse from a child to parent is more widespread than we realise, and 2) most people know someone experiencing CPV even if they are not aware of it. There are many people working to make this part of every day conversation. It is incumbent upon us to create an environment where people feel safe to come forward; where they can be assured of an understanding and empathetic ear; and where timely and proper support is available.
I am pleased to bring you this post from Neil Blacklock, Development Director at Respect, who has been following recent developments in Northumbria.
In November 2015, in Blyth Northumbria a mother was murdered by her 16-year son. The resulting Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) reported that safeguarding structures designed to identify and protect victims of domestic abuse were not attuned to pick up and respond to Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA) and that agencies had not fully understood the risk that her son posed. Continue reading
On August 7th, The BBC published a story on their website – and also covered it on national and local radio – titled Domestic Violence: Child-parent abuse doubles in three years. The BBC piece is clear and succinct, with a straightforward laying out of the statistics, comments from Young Minds and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), a brief case study concerning a parent of an 11 year old girl and the help received from the Getting On Scheme in Doncaster, and a short video highlighting the work of Break4Change in Brighton. The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the police for the period 2015 – 2018, for records of adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA). Of 44 forces contacted, only 19 collect the data in a way that is able to separate out APVA specifically. Continue reading
The tagline on the Premier webpage reads Stay informed and inform others with up to the minute news from a Christian perspective.
With a 60% increase in listeners over the year 2017-18, Premier Radio is one of the few winners reported by Radio Today as total radio listening drops; though the total figure of 227,000 still falls well short of the top London station, Capital, with 1.866 million listeners. Nevertheless, there are many whose day-to-day Christian faith includes listening to a radio station which offers music, discussion and news from a particular perspective. I have regularly visited homes, schools and offices where it has been playing as a background track to the business of the day. The website itself boasts 4019 followers, and the Facebook page apparently has 37K ‘Likes’. These things bring responsibility surely. Continue reading
Joining a growing library of leaflets and booklets designed to help parents understand and obtain help around child to parent violence, is a publication from South Tyneside Adults and Children Safeguarding Boards. Ranging from a simple one page leaflet, to more comprehensive booklets, these publications typically give information to parents and carers to help identify whether they might be experiencing abuse, explanations of why abuse might be taking place as well as steps they can take to minimise it, and local or national contact details. Continue reading
Julie Selwyn’s groundbreaking report into adoption breakdown found that around one third of adoptions pass smoothly, around a third of families were mostly getting on OK but with ups and downs, and the other third were having significant difficulties. If you’ve found it as far as my website then I’m assuming you’re probably not in the first third, and if that’s the case you may well be interested in what Sally Donovan has to say in her latest book: The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting, The Teen Years. Continue reading