I spent yesterday at the Community Care Live 2014 conference and attended a very interesting presentation from CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse): Safeguarding children and young people exposed to and experiencing domestic abuse.
Research conducted by CAADA draws attention to the links between exposure to domestic abuse and the later use of harmful behaviour by young people. Their interest is in harm across the board, but particularly highlighted here was the prevalence of abuse towards parents. Reports, In Plain Sight and A Place of Greater Safety can be found on the CAADA website. Work in the evaluation of MARACs has also found that young people are coming to the attention of these bodies not simply as victims.
The CAADA Young People’s Programme, running for two years, is looking at the provision of a consistent local response to young people aged 13+ experiencing interpersonal violence. Although primarily working with young people as victims, this is also developing practice with young people who are harming others, including parents. The training of young people’s IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) is a fundamental part of this programme and 110 have so far been identified and put into place.
Early identification and help was seen as crucial in work with people leaving abusive situations and with young people. Specialist work with families at the point at which they separated from the abuser had been found to be particularly effective, reaching individuals at a point of change and potentially seeing a reduction in harmful behaviours by young people to almost zero by the time they left the service.
Questions from the floor were revealing in that there was widespread experience of young people being violent to parents, but little clarity around where to go for help. The services on offer were often inadequate to deal with the issues, or the young person failed to engage, and there was then a sense of helplessness at the inevitability of ongoing violence. Structural issues were identified in the way agencies identify victims and their wider safeguarding role.
Those interested in more information about the Young Peoples Programme might like to attend the CAADA conference coming up in July in London. Details here.