Category Archives: news reports

Unless we address the issues behind CPV, “we are committing children to failure”

Tuesday, this week, saw an explosion across the media within Britain of items on the challenges of adoption, particularly the impact of child to parent violence.

The BBC’s joint investigation with Adoption UK culminated in a 40 minute File on 4 radio programme, Adoption: Families in Crisis, which was picked up on national and local stations, and TV programmes such as Victoria Derbyshire; interviewing families and organisations and further unpacking the crises in which many families find themselves.

Nearly 3000 families were surveyed for the report, and the findings are unsurprisingly in line with the report into adoption disruption by Professor Julie Selwyn from 2014. More than a quarter of families described themselves as in crisis, with serious challenges impacting on other members of the family, and at risk of breakdown or already disrupted; but almost two thirds reported aggression in the home and half had sustained serious violence, with injuries requiring hospital treatment and even sexual assault. Within the radio programme, interviews with families related extreme levels of violence and destruction from even young children of primary age, necessitating calling the police. While a high proportion also reported that they were glad they adopted, the meaning and interpretation of this figure has been contested by parents since the report has been published.

The programme goes on to explore the levels of information or help available from local authorities and the difficulties in accessing this, in the face of extreme levels of distress and mental ill health in the children affected. Child to parent violence has been hidden for a long time, and though it is now discussed more openly, there is catching up to do in the help available. While some pockets of excellence are developing, there was concern expressed at the patchiness of provision, as well as the lack of oversight and evidence base for some practices. With contributions from the organisation Family Futures, Professor Jonathan Green from the University of Manchester , Nigel Priestley from Ridley and Hall Solicitors, and Lord McFarlane the discussion concluded with a question as to whether it is time to reconsider the model of long-term care for children who have experienced such degrees of harm and trauma in their early lives.

Clearly child to parent violence has come out of the shadows, and is now a widely recognised phenomenon – within adoption at the very least. The commitment of families – the perseverance and love reported in the face of extreme levels of violence and abuse directed at parents, siblings and home, was overwhelming. The more important aspect of this programme for me lies though in two thoughts: in highlighting the shocking experience of CPV for parents, we must not then demonise the children, neglecting the needs of the child that have brought them to this point; and without proper support for child and family, we are “committing children to failure”.

A number of organisations have issued releases or responses to the report: Local Government network here, the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies here, the Centre of Adoption Support here, Beacon House here. You can see the results of the survey itself on the CVAA website. There is an extraordinarily moving response from an adopter in the Huffington Post here.

The link to the whole episode of Victoria Derbyshire, and interviews with a number of adopters, is here. You can see short clips below.

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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: Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading

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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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