The Responding to Adolescent to Parent Violence conference in Kent last week was envisaged as a step in the process of developing a multi-agency county-wide strategy in addressing APV, and the organisers, Kent Integrated Youth Service, are to be commended for the thought with which the day-long event was planned.
Participants from the integrated youth service, the police and secure estate, health, education, children’s services, and voluntary organisations were first given a broad sweeping introduction to the topic, before hearing from a range of projects currently engaged in work, and having a chance to make their own contribution. Workshops included listening to a presentation of the work of various groups and then considering how their approach could be adopted or adapted in Kent.
PAARS (based in the London borough of Enfield) and Break4Change (Brighton and Hove) both provide services for families experiencing violence to parents, but from quite different models. While Break4Change offer a specifically designed programme working with parents and young people in parallel groups, the work from PAARS is significantly designed for individual need and may go beyond the immediate issue of parent abuse, working with families for as long as needed. Also represented on the day were three Kent based groups: Love Shouldn’t Hurt, part of the Rising Sun Project, which works to empower young people to make decisions about their own and others’ behaviour, locating responsibility for actions and finding a more equal way of relating; Project Salus who have a commission to deliver restorative practice within the police and schools services working 1:1 for a single session; and Maidstone Mediation who have been delivering a response to parent abuse based on mediation and restorative justice techniques in parts of Kent since 2002.
Participants were invited to think about what could be done if money were no object, how training might be rolled out, whether one approach had more to commend it. Where provision might be based becomes relevant if some families are excluded from access, if, for instance, there is no co-existing offending behaviour. There was a clear determination expressed that movement should continue in the direction of a Kent-wide strategy.
Some useful discussion emerged as it became clear that some groups and individuals already have significant experience in the field of adolescent to parent violence, although provision is patchy around the county. The main points might be summed up as follows:
- Don’t keep reinventing the wheel. Make use of existing knowledge and expertise. Make better use of work that already exists.
- Better communication between agencies, including the voluntary sector, so that all are included in developing strategy.
- How to build in early intervention work, with training across all agencies, balanced with a specific targeted response.
Recognition of the need to develop a response to adolescent to parent violence has already been written into the domestic abuse strategy for the county, and, with a national commitment to act on this, the time is surely ripe to see a more coordinated and prioritised service emerging. While funding constraints were acknowledged, this is also a good moment to better coordinate and consolidate service delivery. A commitment has been made to further training and so it is to be hoped that this will soon bear real fruit.