It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here (though I’ve been busy on other pages) but I thought I would treat you today to some ramblings and reflections. Like many people I am sure, over the last 3 months I have experienced both periods of intense, pressured work to tight deadlines, and days of feeling bereft of direction and purpose. Conferences, training events and report launches have been cancelled, and it is too easy to forget the hours of work and preparation that will have gone in to them by all involved. For some families, lockdown has brought a relief as stresses have been removed, and more harmonious relationships are formed and developed. For others the pressure cooker environment has increased fear and risk. Practitioners have been forced in to new ways of working – at short notice and without always having the kit or the skills – and yet some of those ways have paid dividends as they have learned to communicate with young people electronically – on their own “territory” – for a change. Being in Lockdown has intensified the sense of importance of what we do, but also the despair that things take so long to accomplish.
Overall though, I would say there have been some real gains in the field of child to parent violence and abuse.
Mainstream media attention.
As countries around the world locked down, we started to hear reports of increases in domestic abuse. In the UK, Refuge reported a 125% increase in calls to the national domestic abuse helpline, while calls to the Respect helpline for perpetrators increased by 25% over the previous week. While most of the focus was on abuse within intimate partner relationships, there was also considerable interest in harm from young people towards their parents and carers, with interviews carried in mainstream outlets, and across radio ( for instance here and here). Some of these were responding to the immediate situation, but there are other longer pieces in process, looking to explore the issue in greater depth. It has been great, as always, to hear the coverage on Woman’s Hour, following up the launch of the research into violence and abuse towards grandparents, from Dr Amanda Holt. I like to think that each time this takes place, more journalists are persuaded of the importance of the issue and so the chances of them – and others – reporting on it in future increases. The ‘R’ in this respect is definitely more than 1!
Events moving online
After an initial period of cancellation, both trainers and conference organisers have been exploring offering their events in a different way. Inevitably there are some losses, with fewer opportunities for networking for instance, but the gains from not having to travel and so opening up the accessibility of courses should not be under-estimated. In some instances, events are being offered at minimal cost, further improving their reach. As well as bringing different speakers and attendees together over zoom (for instance), there seems to have been a flurry of interest in the webinar format, with so many more conversations available to listen to whenever convenient, and many of those working around CPV using this method to share knowledge, or to further the discussion. There is the added bonus that these are then available as learning tools for months and even years to come (many of these available on my Sound and Vision or Events pages) .
The Domestic Abuse Bill
The British government had committed to seeing this through before lockdown, and so it carries on. While the definition includes only those aged 16 and over, the process has generated significant discussion at high level about CPV, including the issues of (i) age (ii) whether this is the correct framework for understanding and (iii) the lack of resources generally for families experiencing CPV. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner is very aware of the need for development in this area, and I have confidence that the issue will not be dropped. Related to this, the Home Office APVA Guidance document is in the process of being updated, but this is likely to be a long-term project.
Social media promotion
This bit’s all about me! I was very smug recently to pass the 2000 followers mark on twitter. I’m learning more about how to use social media all the time, and have been playing around, softening my approach – and attracting more followers at the same time. For me it’s all about increasing awareness, starting conversations, and encouraging others, so I am always pleased when this is reaping rewards. This is another arena where increases are exponential too!
Time and space
Finally (for now) I think the crisis has given thinking space. This may sound ridiculous if you’re shut in with children trying to juggle your own work and also school and childcare – and my apologies if this is the case; or if you’ve been on the frontline discovering day to day new ways of responding to families. For me though, I have had a chance to pick up pieces of work and ideas that had lain dormant for a long time, and see if they still have life; and I’ve also been thinking about what needs to happen next, to complement the work happening in different places around the country, to start up a more strategic conversation. I hope to bring more news about all of that at another date.
So, if you’ve made it this far, thank you! Thanks for your interest, your parenting in the face of challenging behaviour and difficult times, your work supporting families and developing awareness, and your tolerance of my ramblings.
As always, if you have any comments please do join in the conversation.