A New Documentary about #CPVA

Capa First Response, a support and advice organisation helping families and professionals impacted by child to parent abuse, has recently been in talks with a production company to produce a documentary about child to parent violence and abuse.

This project wants to hear from any families willing to share their stories around this issue, in particular any families where the behaviour is now historic and your relationship with your child has improved. We are also looking to speak with families where the behaviour is ongoing and you would be willing to talk about this. The project is not trying to recreate a fly on the wall documentary but  look at why this behaviour happens, how it presents itself, the difficulties parents face when it comes to friends, families and authorities.
If you are interested please email Capa UK for more information.

You will be aware that there have been a number of television programmes in recent years which have centred on children’s violence towards their parents. Some of these have been more sympathetic than others, largely depending on the aims of the producers and the “story” they have chosen to tell. Understandably there is great reluctance to expose painful and very personal situations in this way, and to potentially create a document that is there to view for the rest of your and your child’s life. Sometimes it is possible to remain anonymous, for the producers to use actors or for faces to be pixellated out. Sometimes producers are keen to show “actual families” to make the story “more convincing” – but it also depends on what the story is. I have personally met with researchers who are very aware of the issues and want to make something that is not sensationalist. Sometimes these initial ideas come to nothing, Sometimes they move forward slowly!

I will always advise parents to think very carefully before committing to anything like this. To ensure they have considered all the implications and that they have proper support in place. Nevertheless, it must be an individual decision and so I continue to publicise requests when they land in my in-tray, particularly if they come from people I know and trust.

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 3

Welcome to 2021 as we in Britain face the prospect this week of further restrictions, even as the COVID vaccine becomes available! This time last year many of us would have been very sceptical about delivering services online, or even working from home, yet here we are – struggling with some aspects admittedly, but wondering whether some things work better in fact, and vowing to keep them on in future; and so I bring you the third part in a series looking at issues around taking services for families experiencing CPVA online. The last few months have seen the publication of numerous reports into life and service effectiveness under the pandemic, and I am particularly conscious of recent research highlighting the problem of parent participation in work with children’s services around child protection. While different circumstances pertain to work with families experiencing violence from their own children, this has also highlighted issues of power in the relationship with those who use our services, which we do well to remember and attend to in all our plans and delivery.

Back in July and August I spoke with a team delivering the Who’s in Charge? Programme online, and with a parent, and remained keen to examine the impact of the changes for those working directly with young people causing harm in the home. This was reinforced for me by the recent HMIP report, highlighting the need for changes in the delivery of support to families experiencing child and adolescent to parent violence, so it was good to be able to speak to a practitioner using the Respect Young People’s Programme (RYPP) for IDAS in Yorkshire. 

The programme has been delivered by a small children’s team within IDAS, working across North Yorkshire, for the last 7.5 years, in work commissioned by the PCC. The team was originally bigger, but there is now only one full-time worker. The RYPP can be delivered to families, or in 1-2-1 work. It includes ‘parallel work’ to parents and young people, with important joint meetings at the start, halfway point and at the end. As with other projects across the country, some people have struggled to move work on line for a variety of reasons. Having decided early on in the year however that he would have to ‘make it work’ because of the need, this practitioner has now reached a model which he is confident in, and believes that his productivity has actually increased as a result!

Phone calls were clearly going to be a problem doing anger management work, and so it was time to get to grips with zoom. In a large rural area such as North Yorkshire, there had been a lot of no-shows in the past for a range of reasons, but one of the first things that was noticed was that attendance by parents improved significantly once there was no need to travel. Some aspects around family introductions were less easy – playing games as icebreakers for instance – but with a commitment to make things work for the all-important early sessions, ways have been found. Consent protocols were changed to accommodate the new situation, with verbal agreements, but with consideration to ways in which this could be recorded. 

Ironically, getting young people to the screen proved more difficult. Some young people were simply not ready to engage in the process, some perhaps ashamed of their behaviour.  There was a clear need for rules and expectations to maintain some element of formality, particularly for young people with special needs, around keeping still and not engaging in other things at the same time – as well as making sure children returned a parent’s device immediately rather than going on a shopping spree! Illness, bereavements, birthdays and competing calls from peers also contributed to an engagement rate of around 70% for the young people, so in some cases the work happened solely with the parents, supporting them to make changes which would impact on home life. 

The assessment and management of risk via online work has attracted attention as an issue of concern. Risk assessments are undertaken at the start of work with families, updated in the middle and then reviewed at the end, though with a dynamic approach to this throughout the programme. The middle point, with a family agreement, often sees risk escalate, as more expectations are placed on the young person at this point. Nevertheless, there is a level of confidence that this can be managed through careful communication, and judgement honed through experience. Care must also be taken regarding confidentiality, and this will prove more problematic for some families than others where space may be limited, technology shared, or where controlling behaviour comes in to play. 

As Lockdown eased towards the end of the year, some families returned to face-to-face work (in a mixture of schools, office and children’s centres), particularly where workers had been less confident with the technology. As schools reopened, it seemed that young people were more likely to engage if the meeting took place while they were in school (whether face to face or online), where behaviour may not be such an issue, and where the power they hold is less to start with; but there are some aspects of the new way of working that the team would like to maintain.

Attending multi-agency and multi-disciplinary meetings online has been very successful, cutting out travel and waiting time and making it easier to obtain a wider attendance. Team meetings and peer support have also been a positive experience – and definitely doing paperwork away from the noise of the office! Parents seem to like the virtual offer, and so that may stay, and the time saved in these ways will allow for greater input in the young people’s work, an element where it is difficult to achieve the same energy or to undertake the same activities working through zoom. 

Before we uncritically herald in the new dawn, are there any after thoughts? 

Well, our RYPP practitioner is definitely looking forward to getting back to working face to face with young people – you can’t beat that! And the crucial bit?

I’ve tried to make it work!

As always, I welcome comments around this difficult issue of online work. The intention has been to share learning and to highlight areas that need special consideration, for the benefit of all. There is plenty of room for other contributions if people would like to share their insights from the year!

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What a year!

I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to help families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse through an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether professionally, or as a good friend or family member, that time and support may have been the thing that kept them going. It has been amazing to see the way that work has been adapted to enable things to keep going. New research has both added to the knowledge we have and confirmed some of the things we suspected. Additional media attention means that more of the public are aware that this is an issue, hopefully changing attitudes along the way. And conversations have started at a more strategic level, which we hope will bear fruit in the next months.

For those parents that read this, we are in awe of the work you do day to day!

So, wishing everyone that reads this the strength and stamina to make and enjoy a peaceful time over the next week. We are very much a team in this work. We all hold a piece of the puzzle. We all need each other. We wait for hope and better news in 2021.

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New VAWG consultation open

The Home Office has launched a Call for Evidence to help inform the development of the next Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy for England and Wales (2021 – 2024). The consultation runs for 10 weeks, closing on 19th February 2021. This will be the third iteration of the VAWG strategy, and although the first 2 have included mention of child and adolescent to parent violence, the content and resulting action has been disappointingly little so far. (See more in my blog posts about this here and here.)

There is a move to consider Domestic Abuse crimes specifically and separately in a consultation to follow Royal Assent of the Domestic Abuse Bill next year. However, it is recognised that this will also be included within the VAWG strategy. Views are sought from those with lived experience of, or views on crimes considered as violence against women and girls. This includes those involved in research, in preventative work, or in the development of and provision of services. The government is particularly interested to hear from those who feel under-represented in previous strategies, or whose needs are not currently supported.

This will be an excellent opportunity to attract further attention to the issue of child and adolescent to parent violence at higher strategic level, so please do consider taking part. While we would want to divert young people from the criminal justice system in terms of response, there are many instances where actions might be considered crimes, and parents choose to involved the police for their own safety and that of their young person. It is currently through police data that we are building a picture of the range and prevalence of behaviour; and with ongoing work training police in recognising and responding to C/APV it is arguably even more important that it gains greater recognition at government level.

There are a number of ways to submit evidence, which are all outlined on the relevant Government website pages, but the easiest way is to complete the public survey.

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“Sharper focus and more detailed planning” needed for parents experiencing CPV

The need to work remotely during the Covid19 pandemic – and particularly during lockdown – has been challenging for practitioners and families alike. Some have managed to embrace new ways of working, even questioning the assumptions of old methods; others have struggled whether because of the vagaries of technology, skills, specific needs or the particular group of people being supported. Research into ways of working through the pandemic has already revealed much that is good and much that needs improvement, and so I was interested to read the HMIP report into the Covid19 Inspection of Youth Offending Services: A thematic review of the work of youth offending services during the COVID-19 pandemic Nov 2020 Continue reading

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Ready for change?

I’ve been thinking more about my last blog (“What works?”), and whether other things are needed too for successful, supportive and healing work with families where there is child to parent violence and abuse. This was prompted in part by a recent Partnership Projects blog post from Peter Jakob and Jill Lubienski, looking at the importance of motivation to change.

Before everyone rushes in, can I say that I acknowledge that many families are highly motivated and have been banging on doors asking for help for significant lengths of time, and that the blockage is most definitely not at their end! Nevertheless, it is important also to recognise that CPVA impacts many different families and for many different reasons, and in some cases, families may be expected to engage in a piece of work not of their choosing. By which I don’t mean classic parenting classes. A couple of examples: one family may have been referred to a programme as part of a wider piece of work, or through the courts; or they may come to a service voluntarily but very clearly identify the problem as rooted in the child or young person, expecting them to make all the changes. If we identify the issue of child to parent violence and abuse as a relationship issue, then we seek to bring about change also within the relationship, and not simply for one individual.

As always, once I start thinking about something it pops up everywhere in conversations and reading, so I was interested to hear that this was something that other practitioners were tackling at the moment. Continue reading

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What works in CPV?

Just leaving this with you: an excerpt from the CSC Innovation Programme Newsletter of November 2020 which has just dropped in to my inbox, on the publication of the final Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Evaluation Report. The Innovation Programme has been running since 2014, to test and share new ways of working with vulnerable children and young people. It is the intention of the Department for Education, that the findings should inform future practice, policy and funding decisions. Continue reading

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Abuse and Violence from Adult Children

An article in the Guardian this last weekend was picked up by the BBC PM programme yesterday; a piece of research into the phenomenon of the Boomerang Generation, young adults returning to live with their parents, or in fact never leaving the family home. Katherine Hill, senior research associate at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, reported that they found

Nearly two-thirds of childless single adults aged 20-34 in the UK have either never left or have moved back into the family home because of a combination of a precarious job market and low wages, sky-high private sector rents and life shocks such as relationship breakups. Around 3.5 million single young adults in the UK are estimated to live with their parents, an increase of a third over the past decade, and a trend that is likely to accelerate as the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic deepens.

The BBC segment focused very much on the positives of this trend – for both sides – as well as the different cultural expectations within some families; but also drew attention to the fact that some families would find it much more difficult where financial constraints or size of accommodation were an issue. Continue reading

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A CPV App – Welcome to the 21st Century!

While I’ve been busy posting links to leaflets for families experiencing child to parent violence, and asking where the posters are, Voice Northants (a free confidential support service for anyone affected by crime in Northamptonshire) has quietly rolled out an App to help people affected by abuse to cope and find support: the Voice Child on Parent Abuse Support Hub. Welcome to the 21st century!

 

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Everything has changed – and nothing has changed

Well this could be true about so many things at the moment! The world we knew is far from the one we are living in at present, and yet the violence and abuse that too many families experience on a daily basis continues. The pandemic has driven a flurry of interest in child to parent violence and abuse from the media; but also people have been looking for different ways to conduct training, and so my diary has been rather taken up by Zoom events! For the last few months I have found myself reflecting in a more concerted way than usual on the progress of work around child to parent violence and abuse since 2010. Continue reading

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