As the Coronation Street story line featuring Simon’s abuse of his step-mum Leanne Battersby rolls on, Radio York featured child to parent abuse in the “Georgey Spanswick at Breakfast” show last week. For those not following the soap, there has been considerable exploration over the last months of the difficulties in the relationship, and things came to a head after an argument over the washing up when Leanne was knocked unconscious.
With three segments, (at 00.13, 01.08 and 02.07) Georgey, and reporter Sarah Irwin, interview “Kitty”, a parent who has experienced violence from her young son, and Sarah Hill, Director of York IDAS; Sandra Hiller of Family Lives; and Angela Whitlock, Parent Coach in Ripon.
Sarah Hill reports that IDAS has received around 200 calls in the last year about child to parent violence and abuse, which they believe to be only the tip of the iceberg, and she urges more families to come forward to seek help. Kitty and her son attended one of the programmes run by the agency and Kitty described it as “transformative” for her own family, and crucial in helping to prevent involvement in the criminal justice system, stopping families falling apart and even saving lives.
Family Lives received 25000 calls to their helpline last year from parents seeking help with aggressive behaviour in children. Sandra Hiller talks about the hidden nature of CPV and how parents may feel they are stepping on eggshells, particularly in step-families, to avoid worsening the situation. As well as urging families to seek help early on (of the 25,000 calls, 50% of families had not sought help anywhere before), Sandra stresses the need for the government to invest in schemes to support families. Sandra highlights how the child themselves is experiencing distress and perhaps dealing with difficulties in their own life. Intervention benefits everyone involved.
Finally Angela Whitlock offers some ideas for de-escalation and the need to work on problems when everyone is calm, rather than mid-crisis. Both parties can change behaviour to bring about a new healthy relationship.
It’s encouraging that this issue is gaining more and more coverage locally and nationally. As CPV is discussed in this way, parents can realise that they are not alone and perhaps be encouraged to seek help themselves.
The radio programme is available to listen to until the beginning of December.