Picking up on a phrase from Jenny Bright in the last post, it has seemed that almost everyone I have spoken with recently has described the point at which they learned about parent abuse as an epiphany. It was, after all, the reason I have given for setting up this site. Each of us responds to that experience in our own way, whether by further study, setting up local provision, or even running a blog; but many describe the need to “raise awareness”. It got me wondering what we actually mean by that phrase.
For some it may be about developing knowledge in the public arena of child to parent violence as an aspect of domestic violence, making local council officers and members aware of newly identified needs, persuading practitioners to include young people’s violence in their work, or most importantly letting families know about services available. We need to engage in each of these fields, but I would suggest they require different angles of attack, and a variety of approaches.
When I started writing this blog, I was thinking much more about raising awareness in the development of knowledge, and then the building of networks and sharing of information as projects were established. With more and more conferences the time for this has by no means ended, but the focus has moved. Practitioners have always said that they have known about the existence of parent abuse, though they may not have had a name for it, and may well have had no access to help. It is a sign of the times now that there is an increasing amount of information for parents, some general, but some specifically geared to individual projects. (Some of this information can be found and downloaded on the resources page).
For instance, the Hertfordshire Practical Parenting Programme has produced 3 short videos, which can be seen on YouTube. They feature specific aspects of disruption in parent/adolescent relationships and encourage the viewer to seek help. The Leeds PACT project includes separate information leaflets for practitioners, young people and parents in their armoury. They meet the need for the information to be presented in a slightly different way in each case. And I was very excited to be handed a leaflet at the recent Nottingham conference by a representative of SPAN in Bristol. SPAN runs a CPV project in conjunction with WISH. They have a leaflet designed by the parents themselves, which asks: “What is parent abuse?”, “How do you feel?”, “What can you do?”, as well as suggestions for safety planning and a listing of local resources.
Many of us in the UK have been approached in the last month by a number of media representatives from the news, women’s magazines and television. The interest follows on from the article in the Times newspaper concerning the research and work in Brighton. This looks like a fantastic way of getting national coverage of a really important issue – but people have been understandably reticent about passing on details. Each of us must make our own decisions based on past experience, research into previous work by the companies involved, and of course our own media departments, but it seems it would be a real shame if we lost this opportunity all together.
In what ever place you are based, in what ever field of work, at whatever stage of development, and in what ever direction you are aiming, I wish you well: in your awareness raising campaigns, as well as in the development of resources and support for parents and the young people with whom they struggle, but whom they still love and care for. Both are needed. One without the other is only half the story.