Child to parent violence: Realities, Enigmas and Ambiguities

A number of new papers – academic and discussion – have been published recently, and I have gathered them all up here together for ease.

Kerry Clarke has published the findings from her doctoral studies in the journal Child and Adolescent Social Work. The paper is titled, Adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse: Parents’ management of tension and ambiguity – an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Kerry’s research examined the lived experience of APVA of 5 families (6 separate parents). It draws out three key themes: Tensions such as wanting to resist their child at the same time as wanting to avoid violence; Ambiguities around definitions, thresholds, and identity; and then Steps Taken to manage the harm. Parents described multiple and varied coping strategies, and Clarke et al suggest that more attention should be given to the expertise of the parents, and of intervening early before violence and abuse becomes extreme.

In February, I publicised a national survey that was being undertaken regarding the Reality of Restraint for adoptive parents. The survey was conducted by Lee Hollins, as part of a fact finding initiative launched by The Open Nest charity. The survey closed at the end of February and the findings have been written up as The Reality of Physical Restraint: An Online Survey for Adoptive Parents “A Cry for Help”.  The report analyses stages of a violent episode, and considers the difficulties in managing challenging behaviour, recognising that restraint is a sad reality. Parents who responded expressed frustration at the difficulty in accessing training in safely managing their child in the middle of a crisis. “The parent’s clear desire for the knowledge and skill in order to respond safely, lawfully and effectively underpinned everything”. Work examining this complex issue continues, with more in depth interviews aimed at gathering further critical insight.

Also from the Adoption camp is the final report from Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, titled Child -Parent Violence (CPV): Grappling with an Enigma. This is the third paper generated from the exploratory exercise conducted in November 2016, surveying parents about their experience of child to parent violence and the help available. It interrogates current definitions of CPV; discusses in greater depths the experiences of families both in living with a violent child and in obtaining help; and also looks at the consequences – and costs – of not addressing this issue. Final recommendations are included:  

The following recommendations reflect those requested by participants within the exploratory exercise and highlight the need to address CPV in order to support not only the family members but the children and young people themselves. Overall the main recommendation from respondents is that they require non-judgemental support, being believed and listened to and respected as a parent who is seeking help not a parent who ‘can’t cope’ with ‘normative behaviour. They identify that other people’s perception of them as suitable parents or effective parents is the biggest barrier to gaining support in that professionals dismiss their concerns as ‘normative’ behaviour. Respondents continue and indicate open discussion may also help address the stigma associated with seeking support for CPV so that a true indicator of incidence may evolve to inform a range of suitable strategies and interventions these families benefit from.

Finally, Dr Amanda Holt has been continuing research into child and adolescent violence and abuse towards parents, and her most recent work, Exploring Fatal and Non-Fatal Violence Against Parents, Challenging the Orthodoxy of  Abused Adolescent Perpetrators, builds on the limited information available in this field.


1 Comment

Filed under publications, Research

One response to “Child to parent violence: Realities, Enigmas and Ambiguities

  1. Becca

    thank you for pulling these together – its helpful to see what’s out there and what’s being discussed.

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