I spent last Friday at the NVR UK 2017 conference in London, where it was great to catch up with colleagues and people I had previously only known through twitter, to make new friends, and to learn how the practice of Non Violent Resistance (NVR) can be applied to all areas of life.
There were two keynote speeches, followed by a series of workshops; and one I was particularly interested in was about the establishment of parent groups connected with de Wiekslag, an organisation in Belgium working with high risk young people and their families. These groups are for parents of young people exhibiting very serious challenging behaviour (including violence to parents), or engaging in school refusal, self harm or running away, and they are described as “slow open groups”, with no course beginning or end, and parents can attend for as long as they like, or need – typically 9 to 12 months. When they leave, a place becomes available for another family. Continue reading
Last week I brought you the reflections of Dr Girish Vaidya, who had attended the Violent Challenging Behaviour conference, organised by Yvonne Newbold. The post has attracted some interesting discussion. This week Yvonne has kindly allowed me to repost her own reflections and review of the conference.
Yvonne begins by recounting the hopes of those attending, and ends with her own dream that this, by breaking the silence, will be just the start. “Part of achieving this level of widespread acceptance must include training for all frontline professionals about the issue, and why it happens and how they can help. Ideally, I’d like to see a future where professionals and parents work together in a spirit collaborative respect to find individual support and solutions that work for each child.” There are some salutary lessons for professionals in her post. Please do read it and understand that this is the real experience of many parents, while we always acknowledge that there are also informed, compassionate practitioners already out there who do truly “get it”.
What did parents want? Continue reading
I am grateful to Dr Girish Vaidya, Clinical Director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, for allowing me to repost this recent blog on his experience of discussing CPV with colleagues.
Originally published on April 8, 2017
Ever since I presented at a national conference
on Child on Parent Violence (CPV), I had been left pondering about it. It’s not that I hadn’t had been exposed to CPV incidents in my professional life. Indeed, my work as an Expert Witness for the Family and Criminal Courts regularly acquaints me with families where CPV happens. What was different this time was that it was a number of different (and diverse) sources who were complaining of CPV. Whether it was a Yvonne Newbold
in her Radio 4 programme or Hannah Meadows
or Al Coates
as parents of adoptive children – the origins of their CPV were diverse. Yet, the impact was the same – the feelings that all parents of children who assault them have.
Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley’s 3 reports (the last of which is linked here) into an online research project provided fascinating reading and prompted me to present the subject in a CPD seminar for fellow psychiatrists in Sheffield’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). I was particularly keen to share the findings of the reports, my fellow professionals’ experience of this issue and how they managed to address it.
It was heartening to hear that all my colleagues were aware of the issue. When I invited them to think about the impact on the families experiencing, their guesswork was entirely in line with the findings from Al Coates and Dr Thorley’s investigation. What this meant was that once seized of the behaviour as a problem, professionals were able to consider its consequences to the children, families and wider society.
There were also some examples that colleagues offered. One Learning Disability CAMHS Consultant recalled how she was horrified when confronted with a suggestion from social services that a child – who had earlier required 5 people to restrain him – had been advised to be returned home to his frail mother. Quite a few chipped with their experience of Sheffield Children’s Social Services and expressed their pleasant surprise at the speed of response and collaborative nature of working. It was also acknowledged, much in line with what Mary Aspinall – Miles said at a recent conference, that “parents should consider carefully before calling the police”.
So, what should parents (and professionals) do when dealing with a difficult subject like Child on Parent Violence?
My fellow psychiatrists were keen that professionals and parents work out a ‘pre-emptive emergency plan’ so that parents are not left in a dilemma about what they should do. A couple of colleagues were passionate about treating CPV on the same level of child abuse. They were also aware of the Sheffield Domestic Abuse Coordination Team’s MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). Some suggested that parents should be asked about their ability to cope vs. their ability to manage their life.
Reassuringly, there was a near universal desire to have a ‘rating scale’ on the lines of various risk rating scales that professionals use, to have a common language about CPV. (I am not aware if there is any such scale and if there is, would be keen to know about it). If there isn’t a scale, my colleagues are keen to work with anyone to help develop one.
Writing this, I am reminded of an incident many years ago when one family’s holiday came in for professional scrutiny. The child had been inflicting severe violence on his parents which had destroyed many a family holiday for the rest of the family. Parents decided that they wanted to do something which didn’t wreck their other children’s holiday. They planned to take separate holidays – father with the other children and mother with the lad. They would swap the following year. It was deemed to be a demonstration of family pathology that they didn’t manage to have a family holiday without a fight. I felt that was being a bit too harsh since the family were trying to find a way out of a very challenging situation not fully appreciated by professionals. What do you think? Would you agree with Hannah Meadows’ assertion that self-care is an intelligent response to dealing with long term stress? Or would you rather that the family learn to live with the CPV on holiday?
Feedback from the CPD seminar suggested that this is just the beginning of our journey. Professionals want to know more, need to know more so that they can support more. Everyone agreed that it was a less discussed issue in clinical discussions and many emphasised that they would be on the lookout for CPV in their clinical practice in the future.
Let us continue the conversation…………………………..
If you are keen to collaborate on scientifically researching this challenge, we – as an organisation and I as a Clinical Director – would be keen to work with you.
I was privileged to be asked to speak at the DVCN conference, organised by Standing Together, this Tuesday in London, opening up the issue of child to parent violence to an audience very familiar with the issue itself, but not necessarily aware of the range of circumstances in which children and young people might exhibit abusive behaviour, or the types of help available. It felt particularly apt to be talking about the Mapping Project, when an analysis of the findings so far has shown that domestic abuse agencies are the most likely to be offering support programmes to families. Indeed a number of the conference delegates were from agencies offering specialist work, or from parts of the country where work is already established. This represents quite a movement from a previous focus on adult perpetrators, which had the effect of making the issue of violence from children even more invisible. Continue reading
Yesterday I attended a seminar organised by AVA, considering the interface between the Care Act 2014 and domestic violence, and what could be learnt about support for vulnerable victims of abuse: “The Care Act six months on …early lessons to keep vulnerable adults safe from domestic and sexual abuse.” As always with these things I had an interest in how this would apply in situations of child to parent violence, but there was a nice overlap too with my “proper job” in that some of the social work students I support and assess might be working within this legislation. Continue reading
The second of two launch days for the Interim Information Guide: Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse took place in London on Monday. (The first was in Manchester last week.) Despite the short notice, brought about by looming general election clogging up the works of the Home Office, there was an excited and positive response both days from the 100+ delegates from across management, commissioning and frontline services. Continue reading