The tagline on the Premier webpage reads Stay informed and inform others with up to the minute news from a Christian perspective.
With a 60% increase in listeners over the year 2017-18, Premier Radio is one of the few winners reported by Radio Today as total radio listening drops; though the total figure of 227,000 still falls well short of the top London station, Capital, with 1.866 million listeners. Nevertheless, there are many whose day-to-day Christian faith includes listening to a radio station which offers music, discussion and news from a particular perspective. I have regularly visited homes, schools and offices where it has been playing as a background track to the business of the day. The website itself boasts 4019 followers, and the Facebook page apparently has 37K ‘Likes’. These things bring responsibility surely.
How disappointing then, that the go-to person for a response to an apparently increasing phenomenon of adolescent to parent violence, should be a ‘Christian author’ who says she THINKS “this is a result of years and years of ‘academic’ child care advice” and BELIEVES “that a child’s behaviour is dependent on the parenting they receive and argues that discipline is a reflection of your love for the child.” Lynette Burrows is someone not unfamiliar with controversy, having spoken out against adoption by gay couples; and who describes herself as a Family Values Campaigner.
Child to parent violence and abuse (and in this we include all those in a parenting role) is not a new phenomenon, but it is one which has only being recognised and discussed more widely in the last ten or fifteen years. In that time an important body of research has built up, and new understandings about neuro-developmental conditions have also brought enlightenment to an issue which remains shrouded in secrecy because of the shame attached to it and the paucity of response from services. We still have no clear figures or sense of prevalence because that shame means that parents often do not come forward for help, or only when the situation has become very extreme. One of the key features is that it is different and separate to ‘naughty children’ or to adolescents testing the boundaries. The term is used to describe a pattern of behaviour often building up over time and which controls or causes fear in parents such that they may feel bound to change their behaviour. There is no one cause, but we see that families with children who have been exposed to domestic abuse, who have experienced early trauma, or who have developmental disorders (amongst a myriad of other situations) often with overlapping experiences, are particularly vulnerable.
As it attracts growing attention, through research, campaigning and media coverage, more and more parents have come forward to share their own stories, including the difficulties they have had in finding a compassionate and practical response. Traditional expectations about parenting have been found not to work and even to be counter productive, and a blanket insistence on adopting inappropriate practices adds to the sense of failure experienced by parents already condemned by wider society for being unable to ‘control’ their children. Indeed, parents have spoken of the harm done to their mental health through not being believed or understood. Around the country, and across the world, there are a growing number of responses being developed. No way near enough, and for some people too difficult to access, but it is important for parents – and others offering a parenting role – to know that these exist and not to be simply berated for being too soft or inconsistent, or for generally not parenting hard enough. In the meantime, the least people should hope for would surely be to not be condemned and ostracised by the church or other religious organisations, but to be offered a welcome and a listening ear.
It is good to see that the Premier website has since been updated with comments from an experienced voice and an accepted authority in this field, Al Coates. It is a shame that an organisation purporting to represent a faith based on loving your neighbour, and compassion for those in need, could not have been more loving and compassionate, with a properly researched response, in the first place.
The original BBC article, to which Premier refers, can be found here. There is a much more interesting story to tell around this. I will rustle something up in the next week or so!