This is the second in a recent series of guest posts. Nikki Rutter writes about the overlap between violence and abuse from children in education settings, and in the home. Nikki is an ESRC-funded Doctoral Researcher at the department of Sociology at Durham University. Her research interests include: Child-to-parent violence, domestic abuse, violence against women and girls, grounded theory. She is a member of Durham University’s Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), and Communities and Social Justice Research Group at Durham University. You can contact Nikki on twitter. See more details of her work on the CPV Research Directory.
Child to parent violence is often viewed as a pattern of behaviour that exists solely within the home; however, there are examples whereby children who are violent within the home are also violent in other environments. In my own research – into pre-adolescent CPV – parents often talk about their relationship with school, and how interactions with school can directly relate or influences their child’s violence:
- School can be a trigger for anxiety related aggression from the child;
- Phone calls from school can cause anxiety within the caregiver, and friction within the home;
- Issues within school can cause a Coke bottle effect which spills over into the home environment;
- One in four teachers experience violence from pupils each week.
Children with social, emotional, and mental health needs are more likely to display violent and aggressive behaviours. Children with these needs are more likely to be excluded from school; which can also increase incidents of violence within the home. The Conservative manifesto outlined that the education department would give Head Teachers more powers to discipline pupils, by making exclusions easier, and there will be an increase in funding to expand alternative provision, for those children who are excluded. One in four teachers are assaulted by pupils each week, so it is important that schools are a safe place for all. However, excluding these pupils is a reactive response to a complex issue and could result in an increase in incidents of violence, for those already experiencing CPV.
Whilst there are many individuals, and organisations who are working to support those families living with, and managing CPV, there is very little policy guidance for those with pre-adolescent children. Educators are expected to manage complex behaviours reactively; which can just result in children who are already struggling with managing these huge emotions within their tiny bodies; these children are excluded from school and made to feel rejected are then being sent home.
Everyone says the children don’t come with a manual, they don’t. We still, however, expect families to instinctively know how to support tiny children with giant, overwhelming emotions. Families do not exist in a vacuum, nor do schools. To support these children to develop strategies that are more helpful, or healthy than violence we need to be supporting families, as well as supporting schools, to support the child.
CPV needs to be less about who is accountable, or responsible for the child; it is not about laying the blame at anyone’s door. CPV responses should be a multiagency, multidisciplinary collaboration in promoting and developing healthy strategies within the child, so they can manage their emotions proactively, and feel secure with their environment. We cannot do this alone.
These are important issues, particularly the need to understand and respond to CPV within a multi-disciplinary framework.
Many thanks to Nikki for her contribution.
If anyone else would like to write a guest post, please do contact me!