Category Archives: Discussion

What do we actually know about #CPV?

An odd question for me to be asking perhaps after all this time! I was very struck by the recent paper from Amanda Holt and Sam Lewis talking about the ways that child to parent violence is variously constructed by government and by practitioners, and the implications of this for practice. The starting positions we take, the assumptions we make may well be unconscious, but if it has taught us nothing else, CPV has surely taught us that we need to examine every assumption, challenge every preconception and get ready to believe the apparently impossible! That said, the debate as to where CPV “sits” (not quite domestic abuse, not quite juvenile delinquency, not quite safeguarding) does continue to grind on – albeit very slowly. 

For a long time, we have introduced caveats into discussions about data and what we know in relation to child to parent violence and abuse. With much of what we have currently coming from within youth justice and police data (because it is more readily available), there are so many reasons why this is not telling the whole story: from parents themselves conceptualising what they experience as needing a police response, through breaking through the shame in order to report it, to receiving a response, being believed, the way an incident is reported and flagged. Many parents will choose not to go down this route, and so we cannot necessarily use the information gathered to make generalised claims about gender for instance, race, socio-economic group, or about the types of behaviour included in our broad definition. 

This should not put us off though, providing we triangulate what data we have from sources such as the police with information from as many other sources as possible: education, health, social care, housing, domestic abuse, independent providers, and of course direct testimony from families. This also means we need to be ready to accept a range of types of information, not all of it hard facts. With many responses relatively recent in their inception, and with relatively small groups of families impacted, there is still not a great deal of the kind of ‘evidence’ for effectiveness that some people would like; but this doesn’t mean there is no evidence. Sadly though there are still huge gaps in the sorts of questions being asked – for instance we know little about the experiences of fathers affected by CPV, or by disabled parents, or marginalised groups such as the Gypsy / Traveller community. 

CPV is not one simple profile, but complicated, multi-faceted, overlapping, stretched at the edges and defying anyone to design a simple response. Whatever the difficulties experienced by a child or family there will be many different issues, all warranting support and remedy – one of the reasons Declan Coogan described it as a “wicked problem” and why I am so keen to bring these other services more on board in discussions about creating a more strategic coordinated response.

 

 

 

 

 

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Co-producing a new #C/APV programme in Kent

Having spent the last few months thinking about the issues of delivering work to families online, interviewing practitioners (here and here) and a parent, and reading commentary and reports, I have formed in my head a series of questions, the responses to which seem fundamental to safe and respectful delivery of this particular type of work:

  1. Power. Who is defining the problem, the need, and the appropriate response? What demands are made in terms of compliance and availability? How are solutions negotiated and achieved?
  2. Technology. Access to devices, to broadband, to knowledge and skills.
  3. Space / Time. The possibility of being able to think clearly and speak safely. The possibility of making use of suggestions made within current family life. The possibility of escape.
  4. Monitoring of risk and safety. Awareness of coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact on the ability to monitor this remotely.
  5. Knowledge and skill sets. Including confidence in the issues and in technology, curiosity, creativity.

All of the work I have looked at so far has been designed originally for face-to-face delivery, and then adapted for online work. In contrast, The Kent Adolescent to Parent Violence programme for families with children aged 10-18 experiencing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence (C/APV), currently being developed and piloted in Kent, has been written almost entirely with online delivery in mind. It was interesting then to see how these questions had been considered and answered. Elaine Simcock, Practice Development Officer within the CYP Directorate talked me through it. Continue reading

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 3

Welcome to 2021 as we in Britain face the prospect this week of further restrictions, even as the COVID vaccine becomes available! This time last year many of us would have been very sceptical about delivering services online, or even working from home, yet here we are – struggling with some aspects admittedly, but wondering whether some things work better in fact, and vowing to keep them on in future; and so I bring you the third part in a series looking at issues around taking services for families experiencing CPVA online. The last few months have seen the publication of numerous reports into life and service effectiveness under the pandemic, and I am particularly conscious of recent research highlighting the problem of parent participation in work with children’s services around child protection. While different circumstances pertain to work with families experiencing violence from their own children, this has also highlighted issues of power in the relationship with those who use our services, which we do well to remember and attend to in all our plans and delivery.

Back in July and August I spoke with a team delivering the Who’s in Charge? Programme online, and with a parent, and remained keen to examine the impact of the changes for those working directly with young people causing harm in the home. This was reinforced for me by the recent HMIP report, highlighting the need for changes in the delivery of support to families experiencing child and adolescent to parent violence, so it was good to be able to speak to a practitioner using the Respect Young People’s Programme (RYPP) for IDAS in Yorkshire. Continue reading

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What a year!

I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to help families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse through an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether professionally, or as a good friend or family member, that time and support may have been the thing that kept them going. It has been amazing to see the way that work has been adapted to enable things to keep going. New research has both added to the knowledge we have and confirmed some of the things we suspected. Additional media attention means that more of the public are aware that this is an issue, hopefully changing attitudes along the way. And conversations have started at a more strategic level, which we hope will bear fruit in the next months.

For those parents that read this, we are in awe of the work you do day to day!

So, wishing everyone that reads this the strength and stamina to make and enjoy a peaceful time over the next week. We are very much a team in this work. We all hold a piece of the puzzle. We all need each other. We wait for hope and better news in 2021.

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Ready for change?

I’ve been thinking more about my last blog (“What works?”), and whether other things are needed too for successful, supportive and healing work with families where there is child to parent violence and abuse. This was prompted in part by a recent Partnership Projects blog post from Peter Jakob and Jill Lubienski, looking at the importance of motivation to change.

Before everyone rushes in, can I say that I acknowledge that many families are highly motivated and have been banging on doors asking for help for significant lengths of time, and that the blockage is most definitely not at their end! Nevertheless, it is important also to recognise that CPVA impacts many different families and for many different reasons, and in some cases, families may be expected to engage in a piece of work not of their choosing. By which I don’t mean classic parenting classes. A couple of examples: one family may have been referred to a programme as part of a wider piece of work, or through the courts; or they may come to a service voluntarily but very clearly identify the problem as rooted in the child or young person, expecting them to make all the changes. If we identify the issue of child to parent violence and abuse as a relationship issue, then we seek to bring about change also within the relationship, and not simply for one individual.

As always, once I start thinking about something it pops up everywhere in conversations and reading, so I was interested to hear that this was something that other practitioners were tackling at the moment. Continue reading

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Abuse and Violence from Adult Children

An article in the Guardian this last weekend was picked up by the BBC PM programme yesterday; a piece of research into the phenomenon of the Boomerang Generation, young adults returning to live with their parents, or in fact never leaving the family home. Katherine Hill, senior research associate at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, reported that they found

Nearly two-thirds of childless single adults aged 20-34 in the UK have either never left or have moved back into the family home because of a combination of a precarious job market and low wages, sky-high private sector rents and life shocks such as relationship breakups. Around 3.5 million single young adults in the UK are estimated to live with their parents, an increase of a third over the past decade, and a trend that is likely to accelerate as the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic deepens.

The BBC segment focused very much on the positives of this trend – for both sides – as well as the different cultural expectations within some families; but also drew attention to the fact that some families would find it much more difficult where financial constraints or size of accommodation were an issue. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Taking #CPV Services Online Part 2

Following on from my earlier post about the logistics of providing support for families online rather than in person, I was really pleased to be able to speak with Jane, a parent of 2 adopted children aged 4 and 6, who wanted to share her own experience of accessing help over the last few months. While she had been experiencing some difficulties prior to the spread of COVID, and she had been receiving help in relation to her older child, for her family the effects of lockdown were devastating as the behaviour of her younger child became dangerous and unmanageable as he struggled to cope with the sudden change in routine. Furthermore, the family immediately lost all access to support – formal and informal – and respite, which had previously kept them going. Continue reading

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Taking #CPV services online, Part 1

As we entered lockdown in March in the UK, there was significant anxiety initially that families would find it impossible to access the help they needed across many service areas, quickly followed by the development of an online offer, which has continued to evolve and improve over the ensuing months. It is clear that things will remain “different” for a long time, as we get used to living in this new world; but there is already a lot we have learned, and as always we can benefit from sharing and learning together.

In the first of what I hope will be a series of posts exploring taking services online, I bring you an interview / discussion with a team of practitioners in Bedford, using the Who’s In Charge? programme to support families experiencing violence and abuse from their children.

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CPV Lockdown Reflections #2

As we emerge out of lockdown in Britain, I have been musing about what we’ve learned in this period about the issue of child to parent violence and abuse, and about some possible answers to the kinds of questions we are always being asked: Is it getting worse, why is it getting worse – you know the ones!

Each of us has experienced lockdown in a unique way, according to our circumstances, but there are many commonalities. People have reported poor or troubled sleep, the intensity of living in close quarters with the same people and the “pressure cooker” effect as tensions build; the anguish of not being able to touch or hold people we are close to, not feeling able to comfort people in distress, increased anxiety with loss of control over our situation and lives. Many people have also experienced bereavement, financial difficulties or poverty of resources. Some have seen a huge increase in work and all that brings, while others have been left wondering about their long term employment. There have been concerns about the length of time children are spending on their screens, and about the mental health of both old and young. For some there has been the stress of supporting school work, for others the relief of fewer demands to comply with rules and expectations. There has been a notable rise in reports of domestic abuse during this period, and, alongside greater interest in the media, more people have come forward too to talk about the abuse they experience from their own children. Continue reading

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