Everything has changed – and nothing has changed

Well this could be true about so many things at the moment! The world we knew is far from the one we are living in at present, and yet the violence and abuse that too many families experience on a daily basis continues. The pandemic has driven a flurry of interest in child to parent violence and abuse from the media; but also people have been looking for different ways to conduct training, and so my diary has been rather taken up by Zoom events! For the last few months I have found myself reflecting in a more concerted way than usual on the progress of work around child to parent violence and abuse since 2010.

So, things that HAVE changed in the last ten years:

  • More research and literature from around the world.
  • More interest and awareness among practitioners as training spreads out.
  • The development of support programmes around the country – with an accompanying body of evidence of effective work – including on-line interventions at the moment, which have the benefit of being able to reach more people.
  • Much more awareness around the issue in the media with significant amounts of “sympathetic” coverage.

Set against things that haven’t changed … and I was struck particularly by how little overall “big picture” progress we have made by reading the conclusions and recommendations to the recent report from Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles, as well as other research at the moment:

  • Still no definition or agreed terminology.
  • Still a need for a more comprehensive safeguarding approach to families experiencing CPV.
  • Still a lack of respite or longer term support that neither criminalises the young person, nor presents the parents as the cause of the problem.
  • Still no embedded support for families, making it subject to programme closures when budget cuts strike.
  • Still no wide recognition of the link between CPV and harm outside of the home, whether criminal exploitation or gang involvement.
  • Still too much silo-working with lack of communication between agencies, and escalating risk going un-acknowledged.
  • Still no “ownership” by any specific department, which means parents are still passed between agencies and no-one takes overall responsibility for coordinating a response.

That all sounds very negative, and in my gloomier moments probably reflects my feelings. But I am also aware that it is important to celebrate what has changed, and not to minimise the huge benefit to families of even small developments that have taken place. Perhaps it is time for a different direction of work, to think and act more strategically; to start to focus efforts higher up and to look for the bigger changes that we now need to see. A massive upheaval in how everything happens may be just the right moment to look at this!

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