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. 

What stands out for me is the importance of time, to be able to hold families until they reach a point where they can usefully access a programme, rather than simply sending them away. This time might be used to build relationships and trust, both fundamental components of therapeutic work, and the building blocks on which change can take place (particularly perhaps where the young person has additional needs). It might also be crucial to be able to monitor and ensure safety. Being able to do this will depend of course on the funding stream and what is “allowed” in terms of length of engagement – how callous that sounds when you spell it out, but sadly that is where we are for some organisations with the current budgetary constraints. My hope is that the greater attention given to CPVA through Lockdown will feed in to improved and enhanced provision for families, coming not simply from an urgent need to “fix” things, but rather from a desire to understand the issues more fully and to embed a response within and across all services, giving time and hope to those who need it.

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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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Taking #CPV Services Online Part 2

Following on from my earlier post about the logistics of providing support for families online rather than in person, I was really pleased to be able to speak with Jane, a parent of 2 adopted children aged 4 and 6, who wanted to share her own experience of accessing help over the last few months. While she had been experiencing some difficulties prior to the spread of COVID, and she had been receiving help in relation to her older child, for her family the effects of lockdown were devastating as the behaviour of her younger child became dangerous and unmanageable as he struggled to cope with the sudden change in routine. Furthermore, the family immediately lost all access to support – formal and informal – and respite, which had previously kept them going. Continue reading

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Lockdown brings differential impacts regarding #CPV, but the need for a strategic response is greater still

One of the remarkable things about Lockdown globally has been the speed with which researchers have been able to shed important light on the impact of the COVID pandemic, whether in terms of education, mental health, domestic abuse – and not to forget child and adolescent to parent violence – with a view to developing future policy and practice. The spectre of future resurgences, and lockdowns forces us all to reconsider how we go about supporting individuals and families in this new world-order where face to face contact may not be possible, and where we have significant catching up to do still in the delivery of services in different ways.

Today saw the publication of a fast-evidence project from Dr Rachel Condry and Dr Caroline Miles looking at the experiences of child and adolescent to parent violence in the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of the experience of abuse itself, and in terms of the support available. The researchers obtained personal testimony from parents and practitioners through the use of on-line surveys, and looked at police data obtained through FOI requests to support their findings. This work builds on their ground breaking research of 2013 which looked at Metropolitan police data over the course of a year. Continue reading

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 1

As we entered lockdown in March in the UK, there was significant anxiety initially that families would find it impossible to access the help they needed across many service areas, quickly followed by the development of an online offer, which has continued to evolve and improve over the ensuing months. It is clear that things will remain “different” for a long time, as we get used to living in this new world; but there is already a lot we have learned, and as always we can benefit from sharing and learning together.

In the first of what I hope will be a series of posts exploring taking services online, I bring you an interview / discussion with a team of practitioners in Bedford, using the Who’s In Charge? programme to support families experiencing violence and abuse from their children.

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CPV Lockdown Reflections #2

As we emerge out of lockdown in Britain, I have been musing about what we’ve learned in this period about the issue of child to parent violence and abuse, and about some possible answers to the kinds of questions we are always being asked: Is it getting worse, why is it getting worse – you know the ones!

Each of us has experienced lockdown in a unique way, according to our circumstances, but there are many commonalities. People have reported poor or troubled sleep, the intensity of living in close quarters with the same people and the “pressure cooker” effect as tensions build; the anguish of not being able to touch or hold people we are close to, not feeling able to comfort people in distress, increased anxiety with loss of control over our situation and lives. Many people have also experienced bereavement, financial difficulties or poverty of resources. Some have seen a huge increase in work and all that brings, while others have been left wondering about their long term employment. There have been concerns about the length of time children are spending on their screens, and about the mental health of both old and young. For some there has been the stress of supporting school work, for others the relief of fewer demands to comply with rules and expectations. There has been a notable rise in reports of domestic abuse during this period, and, alongside greater interest in the media, more people have come forward too to talk about the abuse they experience from their own children. Continue reading

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Does the Domestic Abuse Bill go far enough in addressing adolescent to parent abuse?

Coinciding with the third reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill in Parliament, Caroline Miles and Rachel Condry argue that, as it stands,  it represents a missed opportunity in the development of understanding of and provision for families experiencing adolescent to parent violence. (published July 6th 2020)

Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-2021: Does the inclusion of ‘relatives’ go far enough in addressing the issue of adolescent to parent violence?

 

  • The Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-2021 covers violence and abuse from children (aged 16 and over) towards their parents but stops short of identifying violence from children towards parents as a specific subtype of domestic abuse.
  • The omission risks adult to parent violence remaining an invisible phenomenon that is not readily identified, recorded or counted, and also misses an opportunity to develop a national policy response.
  • The Bill creates an offence covering 16-18 year old perpetrators but no guidance as to what police powers should be used to deal with domestic violence and abuse by children, especially when perpetrated towards parents.
  • There needs to be a coherent and strategic police response to adult to parent violence, which addresses the needs of parents but also recognises the safeguarding needs of adolescents.

Read the full blog on the University of Manchester website here.

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