Category Archives: publications

An innovative approach to working with adolescent family violence in DuPage County, Illinois

Continuing the series of guest blogs, I am pleased to bring you this from Amanda Holt, information about a service in Illinois for families experiencing adolescent family violence. I was particularly thrilled to hear from Amanda, as I have been contacted a number of times by people in the States asking for pointers and guidance in developing or accessing help. News of the screening tool is very welcome, and I was also very interested in the understanding that girls are coming from different circumstances, with separate needs. Finally, the first responder aspect is one which can hopefully feed in to similar discussions taking place in the UK at present. Please do check out all the links; there is a lot of information here and it will take a while to digest it all, but it brings a new interpretation to the table which many will find helpful I think. Thank you Amanda!


This month marks the tenth anniversary that North East DuPage Family and Youth Services (NEDFYS) (in Illinois, US) ran its first adolescent family violence programme, based on principles from the Step-up programme that was developed by Greg Routt and Lily Anderson in King County, Washington State in 1997. Since that time, 170 families have completed all 21-week sessions and graduated successfully: of these, only 11 (6%) were rearrested for a new offence related to family violence within 12 months after graduation. The programme itself is a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court Judges, the States Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s office, Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services and Probation and it emerged from a Models For Change four-year grant that DuPage County received from the MacArthur Foundation beginning in 2006.

Last year I had the privilege of visiting the team in Illinois and observing their innovative work. I was struck by their dedication and commitment to the cause, and also by their extensive knowledge of adolescent family violence and their thirst to keep on learning and develop new ways of working. For example, frustrated that court involvement and detention was not helpful in dealing with cases of adolescent family violence (where there were high rates of re-arrest), the team developed the first screening tool (that I’m aware of) to help them appropriately respond to its different contexts. Published in 2015, the Adolescent Domestic Battery Typology Tool (ADBTT) represents the culmination of a five-year project where the team, with the assistance of research consultants from the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), reviewed 150 case files from which they developed a set of typologies, which were then subject to a large pilot validation study (details of the development process can be found in the ADBTT manual here, and also here). The ADBTT helps the team to identify who should be diverted from the court, what the level of supervision should be, and what (if any) the out-of-home placement needs are. For each of the ‘types’, safety planning, trauma-informed practices, and family therapy principles that work with the family system as a whole are at the centre of the intervention work. Of course, the tool is not a replacement for thoughtful consideration of each unique family and its needs, but it does offer a useful additional resource for practitioners who need to make difficult decisions about how to support the different families that they encounter.

A second innovation is the Girls Gaining and Growing Project, which specifically looks at developing a treatment protocol for girls who are violent towards family members. The team identified that the girls on their programmes were experiencing incredibly high levels of trauma (in 90%+ of cases) and they found that this was often generational: many of their parents (particularly mothers) were also scoring highly in the pre-programme trauma screening. The team also found some interesting gender differences in the contexts of adolescent family violence – for example, the ‘escalating’ type was very rare in girls, compared with boys. In response, the team developed a specific trauma-informed, gender-responsive intervention for adolescent girls who use violence towards family members. While the programme uses some modified versions of existing interventions, others are original. The team now always screen for trauma-related symptoms (the programme workers use the Trauma Recovery Scale (TRS) prior to any intervention work as they find it so helpful in informing their practice. 

The team have also recently developed a First Responder Protocol for those, particularly the police, who arrive at a crisis situation involving adolescent family violence and require guidance as to how to respond appropriately. Included in their protocol is: i) clear definitions to help first responders identify the violence, ii) a recommendation for the use of a ‘designated’ juvenile police officer to respond appropriately, and iii) a reminder of the importance of applying a developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed and gender-responsive approach when responding to such families. 

I’m very much looking forward to hearing what the NEDFYS team does next.

For further information, please contact Viv Odell, Associate Director, NEDFYS. Email:


I very much welcome contributions to this website, and look forward to publishing material from other people engaged in this important work.

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Reporting on the police response to #CPV

Some reading for you to occupy the next weeks and months!

There is a lot of interest at the moment in developing an improved understanding of, and response to, child to parent violence and abuse from within the police and youth justice services.  See for instance the work within the N8 Policing Research Partnership in England, and also from the state of Victoria in Australia. Another important read from Australia is the PIPA project Report, Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home.  The PIPA project aims to improve evidence regarding:

  • legal responses to AVITH as it presents in different justice and service contexts
  • the co-occurrence of AVITH with other issues and juvenile offending
  •  current responses and gaps in service delivery.

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CPV: when it’s too shameful to speak the words …

Joining a growing library of leaflets and booklets designed to help parents understand and obtain help around child to parent violence, is a publication from South Tyneside Adults and Children Safeguarding Boards. Ranging from a simple one page leaflet, to more comprehensive booklets, these publications typically give information to parents and carers to help identify whether they might be experiencing abuse, explanations of why abuse might be taking place as well as steps they can take to minimise it, and local or national contact details. Continue reading

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ACEs: Not a winning hand after all?

When the concept of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) broke onto the scene, with the dissemination and discussion of the CDC-Kaiser ACE study, this seemingly common-sense understanding of the link between painful experiences in childhood and poor outcomes later on in life was embraced by many as the new Holy Grail.

This American study had apparently found evidence across a large sample group of the impact of ten specific childhood experiences on adult health functioning; and the greater the number of adverse experiences, the worse the outcome. And it made perfect sense that someone taking an interest in you and your welfare early on might enable you to have a more secure sense of self and improve your life chances. The concentration on ACEs was timely, linking in with a focus on trauma-informed work, and the growing understanding of the the changes in the brain and the later outworking of developmental trauma by young children and even adults. Continue reading

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Child to parent abuse: a literature review

Sixty years of child-to-parent abuse research: What we know and where to go, is available on line from this month, and is published in the January / February 2018 volume of the journal, Aggression and Violent Behaviour. Simmons, McEwan, Purcell and Ogloff found over 9900 English language peer reviewed articles up to December 2016 through various searches; and their paper reviews 84 specific references. After some discussion about definitions and terminology, they consider the shortcomings of existing reviews, specifically their frequent basis in a single theoretical framework, as well as the problems of reliability of much of the data, and go on to propose a more integrated understanding with knowledge from different disciplines. Continue reading

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“Family Interventions with Non Violent Resistance”

It’s great to see a new book in the field of child to parent violence and abuse coming out later this year from Declan Coogan, who has driven the development of understanding and use of Non Violent Resistance in Ireland.















The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon now, or you can sign up to receive more information from the publisher, JKP, once it is available.

Addressing the under-reported issue of child to parent violence and abuse, this book presents the effective intervention method of Non-Violent Resistance. Tips for adapting the method, alongside case studies and downloadable forms make this an invaluable tool for practitioners working with affected families.

Providing an authoritative overview of the growing phenomena of child to parent violence – a feature in the daily life of increasing numbers of families – this book outlines what we know about it, what is effective in addressing it, and outlines a proven model for intervention. 

Based on Non Violent Resistance (NVR), the model is founded on a number of key elements: parental commitment to non-violence, de-escalation skills, increased parental presence, engaging the support network and acts of reconciliation. The book outlines the theory and principles, and provides pragmatic guidance for implementing these elements, accompanied by case studies to bring the theory to life.

Declan was part of the team who worked on the pan-European RCPV project which reported in 2015; and continues to teach, train and develop the work within Ireland.

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Child to parent violence: Realities, Enigmas and Ambiguities

A number of new papers – academic and discussion – have been published recently, and I have gathered them all up here together for ease. Continue reading

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