Category Archives: news reports

Wrongful arrest prompts call for change

As a new year begins most of us hope for better things to come. The last year was considered by many to have been particularly vicious in an inanimate sort of way. I do believe there is always something to celebrate if you look hard enough; and for those working the field of child to parent violence there has been, within the UK at least, an encouraging interest in training, and a period of consideration of what I have termed nuance – understanding that not all experiences of child to parent violence and abuse will be the same, with a corresponding need for varied responses.

But there have also been personal setbacks for some, with a fear that no one understands their situation. It may have been an unanswered plea for help; or they may have been at the sharp end of an investigation with false allegations made by a child against them. It is right that procedures then roll into action – allegations must be taken seriously, but this should involve a thorough and proper investigation of what has supposedly taken place. Sadly, for one mother in Tennessee, events took a rather different turn, as reported here. Whether out of prejudice, misogyny, or sheer ignorance, is not clear at this stage, but, thankfully for her, her lawyer has supported her all the way and is now calling for a review of procedures in this instance, and in general. The lawyer’s letter follows:

 

 

The case is a stark reminder of how far we all still have to go. But we can be glad that there are those willing to take up the baton, to raise understanding and to work for change.

Wishing you a happier new year in 2017!

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Soaring number of children being taken into care for abusing and beating up parents

This was a headline in the Sun newspaper last weekend, in an article by Michael Hamilton. Freedom of Information requests to 149 councils in England resulted in a figure of 62 children, ranging in age from 10 upwards, removed from their homes in 2015 by just 16 authorities. Some authorities refused to answer, citing data protection laws. The article lists the authorities which did respond and the relevant number in each case. The corresponding number for 2014 was 49. There are no other details, other than comments from an NSPCC spokesperson, recognising the impact of trauma on children’s behaviour and highlighting the need for help and support for families. Please assume my usual comments about the reliability of statistics such as these! Continue reading

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I fear my son will kill me one day

This headline and the accompanying piece in the Family section of the Guardian last Saturday could not fail to shock those who came across it: a mother describing the terrible physical abuse she experiences at the hands of her teenage son.

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“Sarah” has found it almost impossible to admit that she is scared of her son, and yet when she first asked for help was told that it was unlikely she would get any – because he was loved and not in any danger. This reflects the prevailing story: that in a culture that separates children’s and adults’ needs and services, and focuses on the rescuing of children from danger, we fail to recognise the centrality of relationships in family lives, whether in their fragility of care or their strength to bring healing. Feeling undermined by professionals as much as by strangers and increasingly isolated at a time when their need for support on every level increases, the family is now offered 2 nights respite care every six weeks. Continue reading

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Learning Links funding secured for NVR

Some good news at a time when we are becoming used to hearing of funding being cut. Congratulations are due to Learning Links, a charity based in the south east of England, who announced last week that they have secured funding from Children in Need which will enable them to continue to run their Circles of Support programme for a further two years. Circles of Support consists of Non Violent Resistance (NVR) sessions with additional parent and child relationship building activities. The target is to reach and support parents and carers of 90 children aged between 5 and 17 years.

The Business Development Manager, Clare Mussell  said: “Our NVR courses have been absolutely crucial in supporting families who are living with child to parent violence. It is crucial that families get support to alleviate stress and to ensure that children achieve the best outcomes in life. The BBC Children in Need funding will enable us to deliver NVR and build bridges between parent and child and bring the family back together”.

Learning Links has offices in both Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, and details of how to contact them can be found here.

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Alice Flowers advocates for parent abuse bill in Florida.

Family Of Woman Who Lost Her Life Plead With Lawmakers To Hear Parent Abuse Bill

 

Some Florida lawmakers and advocates are pushing for a bill classifying the abuse of a parent as a form of domestic abuse. The measure stems from a woman who lost her life years ago.

Flowers is recalling the painful memory of the events that led to her sister, Rosemary Pate’s death. Pate’s son Everett was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder.

“She had suffered years of abuse from him,” she added. “Although he had been detained in the Department of Juvenile Justice, many times he was returned home to her where the abuse continued, although law enforcement were aware of the threats.”

And, Flowers says losing her sister like this has been tough on the whole family.

“My father has been through a lot,” she continued. “He got a call. Early one morning, my youngest sister and her husband went to his house to let him know that his grandchild had murdered his child. We have been through the ringer with this.”

Flowers just finished a bicycle ride from Orlando to Tallahassee in memory of her sister. Now, she’s advocating on behalf of a bill that she says would have helped.

“Myself and four cyclists have cycled to show how serious we are about getting a bill for police protections for parents and a bill that would begin intervening early for troubled children,” she concluded.

That bill Flowers is pushing for is sponsored by Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando).

“We know that in Orange County we have a problem because we’ve studied it,” she said. “And, 426 children were arrested in 2012 for domestic violence, physically assaulting family members in their own homes. And, according to an article, elderly people are likely to be hurt by their children or other caretakers more than any other individual.”

And, Thompson says she’s saddened that even with a restraining order stating that Pate’s son had threatened her and she’d been afraid of him for years, the 51-year-old’s petition went nowhere.

“He had indicated that he would kill her two years earlier when he was 16,” Thompson added. “She said her petition to the judge had not really been acted upon because right now, in the law, regarding domestic abuse, the abuse of a parent is not included and so, this bill would correct that. And, it would include abuse of a parent as one of the forms of domestic abuse.”

The abuse may include aggravated abuse, exploitation of a parent’s assets, or emotional abuse of a parent by a biological child. The bill also requires the abuse of a parent be reported to the state abuse hotline.

And, Rep. Victor Torres (D-Orlando), the bill’s House sponsor, says the measure is needed.

“We need to make sure our parents are protected against abusive children,” he said. “The abuse tends to begin with verbal abuse, gradually progresses to property damage, breaking the walls, breaking down doors…ultimately, it becomes physical and that’s when you have the problems, that’s when you start seeing the aggression against the parents.”

So far, neither the Senate nor the House bill have had a hearing. But, both sponsors say they remain hopeful that if it dies this year, it will still be heard next session.

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The West Midlands Police response to CPV

Despite urging that we take steps to name and count incidents of child to parent violence, I am generally sceptical about the release of statistics from the police. (I’ve explained why previously here.) Nevertheless, the publication in the last week of figures from the West Midlands Police received widespread coverage in both local and national press, and is to be welcomed. Continue reading

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“Cases of children abusing their parents has soared by 60% in two years”

People have been much exercised over recent weeks by an apparent huge rise in the number of younger and younger children being involved in serious crime; and bundled in with this is the issue of these children’s violence and abuse towards their parents. Both the Daily Mail and Telegraph published items around this theme, and I saw the same story covered by the website Dad info.

What are we to make of this?

First, we must be cautious about the meaning we ascribe to crime statistics, as to any data. Crime figures have always been affected by reporting behaviour (of both victims and police), societal attitudes (some would like to attribute it to parents giving up their parenting responsibilities to the state), by targeted programmes, categorisation, and also – certainly in the past – by the practice of “manipulation”. The figures, too, come on the back of reported “very large reductions in serious youth violence” in the previous year, reported also by the Youth Justice Board, in January of this year; though there may be some localised variations in this. Scepticism is important, but we need to also acknowledge real changes society, such as an increase in the use of children by gang members seeking to evade the law themselves, or to the impact of different exclusion policies adopted as the picture of school governance changes across the country, which may act to drive up figures of real crime. Continue reading

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