Leeds Practitioners’ Forum on Child-to-Parent Violence

I was very disappointed not to be able to attend the Practitioners’ Forum at Leeds University, but thrilled to present this review of the day from Dr Sam Lewis, which also gives links to all the presentations.

On 15th July a Practitioners’ Forum on Child-to-Parent Violence (CPV) was held in the School of Law at the University of Leeds. The event, which was organised by the University’s Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS), Leeds Youth Offending Services (YOS) and Wakefield Troubled Families Scheme, attracted over 100 delegates from different agencies and areas.

In the morning, the focus was on developments in policy and research. After welcoming delegates, Dr Sam Lewis (University of Leeds) considered the factors that have kept this social problem in the shadows. The shame felt by parents, a lack of CPV-specific services and concerns amongst academics about the over-criminalisation of children were all cited as being relevant. Also, political rhetoric regarding the control exerted by ‘responsible’ parents over their offspring appears to deny the existence of ‘good parents’ whose efforts are undermined by the physical, psychological, emotional and financial impacts of their children’s behaviour.

Anne-Marie Harris (Youth Justice Board) stated that youth justice professionals regard adolescent to parent violence (APV) as a pressing issue. As part of the policy response, APV was included in the Government’s revised Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Action Plan (2014). Information papers for local service providers are due to be published by the end of the year and dissemination events in London, Birmingham, Oxford and Manchester are planned for early 2015.

Dr Amanda Holt, whose book on Adolescent-to-Parent Abuse was the first of its kind in the UK , considered the diverse and divergent nature of responses by different agencies. She noted that parents often experience different types of abuse simultaneously: such a complex social problem requires a multi-faceted response.

Professor Sarah Galvani (University of Bedfordshire) discussed domestic violence, CPV and substance misuse. She stated that there is no simple causal relationship between alcohol or drug misuse and violence, but that individual factors (such as pharmacological effects and expectancy effects) and socio-cultural factors are also relevant.

In the afternoon, delegates heard three papers from practitioners delivering CPV-specific services. Sally Fawcett and colleagues from Wakefield Troubled Families Scheme described the development and delivery of their ‘Do it Different’ programme for parents and children experiencing CPV. Whilst noting the positive impact of the programme, Sally recognised that CPV is not solved in 12 weeks: ongoing support is vital.

Jenny Bright and colleagues from Leeds YOS told delegates about their Parenting and Children Together (PACT) programme. She cited the benefits of working in partnership with parents and children, different agencies, academics and policy-makers to provide a holistic response.

The final paper was by Ann Ramsden, who founded the Rosalie Ryrie Foundation and spoke about her work in Wakefield to improve the lives of family members in violent relationships.

During the day, we also heard from two mothers who had experienced CPV and completed the intervention programmes. They told delegates that their relationships with their sons, whilst still not perfect, are notably improved. They also reported that receiving help and meeting with parents in a similar situation had brought additional benefits, particularly for their confidence and self-esteem. One now acts as a mentor for mothers on the PACT programme and is due to start University in September 2014. The other is training to be a mentor for women completing Do it Different. Their moving contributions underlined the importance of timely and effective interventions for families experiencing CPV.

The presentations and more information are available here.



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