A story of knives and cuts – with a little bit of hope at the end.

What is it with knives? (I’m sure someone will answer that for us!) So many parents report the use of knives in the abuse they face from their children. I clearly remember a conversation with Julie Selwyn after publication of Beyond the Adoption Order, about the frequency that they had been mentioned in conversations with parents about their adoption journey. And I remember the horror in a friend’s voice as they described their early experience of fostering – which also marked the end of that venture for them. When people talk about being at “the sharp end” of a child’s anger, frustration and pain, this is too often what we are talking about.

And the cuts referenced in the title here? Sadly this is to the services we had hoped would provide support, safety and hope. Austerity is being felt not just in the UK, but elsewhere around the world, as we see funding lost, and cuts to mainstream as well as specialist services. The provision of adolescent mental health services is seen as in crisis. In a “small state” political climate, more and more provision is outsourced, but charities depending on lottery grants struggle to maintain a service if applications fail. Before, I had anticipated adding to my map of services, now I am also having to remove those that have been forced to close.

Against this background it is even more crucial that awareness and understanding of the issue of child to parent violence spreads across the professional stage. Where once we hoped that frontline services would recognise a need and refer on to specialists, are we now moving to a position where first responders will be relied on to provide the support?

Writing this blog; meeting with social workers, students and parents; and focusing on this issue so much, I realise that I can get a bit of a skewed picture of how things are. But I also see little things to give hope. More parents coming forward to talk about their experience and offer each other help and ideas for instance; the fact that a recently advertised Masterclass on CPV for social workers sold out immediately; the development of online and telephone help in an otherwise bleak landscape – and a veritable explosion of free seminars, from real experts in the field, around the country in November!

Apologies for being a little gloomy today. I will look for something more positive next time. And if there is something you would like to write, or indeed something you would like to see written about, please do contact me. Thank you!

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