One of the remarkable things about Lockdown globally has been the speed with which researchers have been able to shed important light on the impact of the COVID pandemic, whether in terms of education, mental health, domestic abuse – and not to forget child and adolescent to parent violence – with a view to developing future policy and practice. The spectre of future resurgences, and lockdowns forces us all to reconsider how we go about supporting individuals and families in this new world-order where face to face contact may not be possible, and where we have significant catching up to do still in the delivery of services in different ways.
Today saw the publication of a fast-evidence project from Dr Rachel Condry and Dr Caroline Miles looking at the experiences of child and adolescent to parent violence in the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of the experience of abuse itself, and in terms of the support available. The researchers obtained personal testimony from parents and practitioners through the use of on-line surveys, and looked at police data obtained through FOI requests to support their findings. This work builds on their ground breaking research of 2013 which looked at Metropolitan police data over the course of a year.
The report confirms what others have already suggested, that for some families the situation has eased (though with anxieties about what will happen when schools return) while for the majority the levels of violence and abuse have escalated, leaving many parents fearing for their own safety and that of other members of their family. The act of lockdown itself brought about a “pressure cooker” situation, while simultaneously making it harder to obtain help. While some families called the police for the first time, others expressed extreme anxiety about (among other things) the possible exposure to the virus if a child was arrested; and police data was generally mixed reflecting this reluctance to seek help for many families, even as they feared for their lives.
The report makes a number of important recommendations including the need for continuing the raising of awareness and training of those in frontline services; the widespread roll out of support programmes; and the development of a strategic overview and response at local and national level. The Home Office have made commitments to looking at this issue, and have begun a review of the guidance document; and there are commitments too to the development of work within the Domestic Abuse arena. This must not be allowed to fall by the wayside, with an issue which falls between all services at the moment but is most certainly not going away.
It was encouraging to see the publication of the report covered in a feature on Child to Parent Abuse by ITV in their Good Morning Britain breakfast show today. Rachel Condry spoke of concerns that young people would become further criminalised without the development of more appropriate services; and the programme researchers spoke with parents experiencing CPV; while Jane Griffiths of CapaUK, outlined the many complex issues for families, and the vulnerability of the young people involved. Many news outlets have grasped the reality of this issue, particularly with the renewed focus on domestic abuse. There is still a long way to go, but every step counts!
“This should be seen as an opportunity … to intervene and stop that child becoming an adult who becomes violent, but unless we understand what is happening and the fact that this is going on, then those support services aren’t going to be funded properly.”