Last week saw the launch of a report commissioned by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office and produced by Respect, Understanding CAPVA – a rapid literature review of child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA). I was privileged to co-author the report with Dr Vicky Baker, who recently completed her PhD at UCLan, exploring young people’s accounts of using violence and abuse towards parents.
One of the purposes of the review was very explicitly to identify gaps in knowledge and provision, with a view to exploring how these needs should and could be met. The report is in two parts, looking first at our understanding of the issue – what we know, what CAPVA looks like, who it effects and some of the theories about how it comes about; and then in part 2, how it is addressed. Finally there are a significant number of recommendations made, both in terms of further research and, importantly, in the way it is gripped by government in departmental oversight, funding and provision.
The recommendations section is not insignificant! In some ways it’s frustrating to think we are still here in making some of the requests after so many years of pressure and campaigning. For instance, the call for a nationally agreed terminology and the proper collection of data seem to have been around for ever. Recommendations about the type of response needed though are becoming more refined as we learn more and have opportunities to work with colleagues to examine how we can work together and what this should look like and include.
One recommendation covers the importance of updating the Home Office Guidance which was originally written and published in 2015. Thankfully this is now well underway and we look forward to seeing the final document (in the next year?)
Obviously I commend the report to you! It is hopefully easy to read, despite covering so much ground in significant detail. It should be of interest particularly to commissioners and policy makers, as well as those within central government whose remit covers any aspect of family life; but the overview of the literature on this topic makes it an important summary for all involved in supporting families, whether in management or on the frontline.
Time and time again I hear about the impact that child to parent violence and abuse can have on a parent’s ability to maintain employment. Whether in terms of embarrassment about injuries or taking time off sick; or having to be at home to supervise a child excluded from school, many parents have told me about the strain this places on their working life, often leading to a decision (not always voluntary) to leave a job, with all the changes this brings in terms of finances, social contact, and even housing.
It’s always encouraging to be able to share with peers, to hear of new developments and learning, swap tips and good practice, and offer advice and ideas when things get tricky. In a relatively new area such as Child to Parent Violence and Abuse we are all learning, and so opportunities to hear from others involved in similar work, whether through formal learning or through less formal sharing and discussion are much appreciated and sought after!
There are 2 such opportunities coming up:
Family Based Solutions instituted a professionals’ network during lockdown, and their next session is on October 18th. More details here.
If you work in Sussex and can’t wait that long there is a newly established Sussex Child to Parent Abuse Network, a shared venture between The Rita Project andCapa First Response, which has its inaugural meeting on December 9th*, supporting professionals working with families across the county. More information and booking here.
Please do make use of these opportunities, and also check out the Directory to see if there are other agencies near where you are based, to promote further opportunities to learn and grow together. I am always happy to post announcements such as these, so let me know if there are other similar networks out there!
*Please note change of date from that originally posted.
Capa First Response, a support and advice organisation helping families and professionals impacted by child to parent abuse, has recently been in talks with a production company to produce a documentary about child to parent violence and abuse.
This project wants to hear from any families willing to share their stories around this issue, in particular any families where the behaviour is now historic and your relationship with your child has improved. We are also looking to speak with families where the behaviour is ongoing and you would be willing to talk about this.The project is not trying to recreate a fly on the wall documentary but look at why this behaviour happens, how it presents itself, the difficulties parents face when it comes to friends, families and authorities. If you are interested please email Capa UK for more information.
You will be aware that there have been a number of television programmes in recent years which have centred on children’s violence towards their parents. Some of these have been more sympathetic than others, largely depending on the aims of the producers and the “story” they have chosen to tell. Understandably there is great reluctance to expose painful and very personal situations in this way, and to potentially create a document that is there to view for the rest of your and your child’s life. Sometimes it is possible to remain anonymous, for the producers to use actors or for faces to be pixellated out. Sometimes producers are keen to show “actual families” to make the story “more convincing” – but it also depends on what the story is. I have personally met with researchers who are very aware of the issues and want to make something that is not sensationalist. Sometimes these initial ideas come to nothing, Sometimes they move forward slowly!
I will always advise parents to think very carefully before committing to anything like this. To ensure they have considered all the implications and that they have proper support in place. Nevertheless, it must be an individual decision and so I continue to publicise requests when they land in my in-tray, particularly if they come from people I know and trust.
While I’ve been busy posting links to leaflets for families experiencing child to parent violence, and asking where the posters are, Voice Northants (a free confidential support service for anyone affected by crime in Northamptonshire) has quietly rolled out an App to help people affected by abuse to cope and find support: the Voice Child on Parent Abuse Support Hub. Welcome to the 21st century!
Many thanks to all those who have sent me details of the research they are currently or recently engaged in. I have started to rebuild the Research page, which will now include “Research Requests” and also the Directory. You will be able to see who is engaged in research in the field of child to parent violence around Britain particularly, but also further afield. There will be links to contact details, title of the work and more information about the projects themselves, as well as publications. I hope that this will be informative to those thinking of work in this area, and encouraging to the rest of us!
The directory is far from comprehensive as it stands, and there is more work still to do before it is as I want it, but it’s a start. Please do contact me if you would like to be included; and of course if you would like to place a request for participants or information regarding your work.
As part of this project, they want to develop a better understanding of the young people who engage in violent behaviour against other family members, including current practice issues, what works, practitioner levels of knowledge and confidence in working with these young people and their families, and training/resource needs. They are seeking this information initially through a short survey and then through face to face consultations.
It is always a pleasure to be able to share good news – in a field of work that is too often full of pain and frustration. So I was thrilled to hear about the recent award to Sue Pearson, Education Officer for the Leeds Youth Offending Team, by the Butler Trust, in recognition of ‘the empathy and skill she brings to her “life-changing” work with troubled families, and for the dedication and compassion she demonstrates in addressing the issue of child-to-parent violence’.
Sue received her award from HRH The Princess Royal. (Photo from Butler Trust)