Category Archives: publications

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.

But almost immediately concern began to grow about the way ACEs were being used as an over-simplistic explanation of life trajectories; about their inappropriate and even dangerous use as a diagnostic tool; and about the focus on the individual to the exclusion of wider societal factors in determining health and well-being. Putting the focus on the individual themselves, and adopting a deficit model, creates a situation whereby a person becomes defined by what has happened to them. It is clear that certain events can have more or less devastating consequences to individuals, to communities and even to whole societies; and indeed it is important to keep this wider impact in mind. But by adopting a narrow focus we misuse “big data”, which is designed to tell us about large populations, not specific individuals. At issue is the interpretation of the data, the wholesale adoption within public policy, and the way this squeezes out other understandings and responses.

So does this study have something helpful to tell us, and can we make use of the insights it apparently offered?

This special themed edition of Social Policy and Society examines the ACEs concept and offers a critique of both its development and its use. The introduction, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Implications and Challenges, by Edwards, Gillies and White, is open access. Abstracts can be viewed for the other papers, with the exception of the final ‘Useful Sources’ which is also available in full, but access generally demands payment or subscription, though authors will often look favourably on a request to view a particular paper.

Steptoe, A., Marteau, T., Fonagy, P. and Abel, K., ACEs: Evidence, Gaps, Evaluation and Future Priorities

Asmussen, K., McBride, T. and Waddell, S. The Potential of Early Intervention for Preventing and Reducing ACE-Related Trauma

Hartas, D. Assessing the Foundational Studies on Adverse Childhood Experiences

Kelly-Irving, M. and Delpierre C. A Critique of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Framework in Epidemiology and Public Health: Uses and Misuses

White, S., Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Wastell, D. All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making?

Macvarish, J. and Lee, E. Constructions of Parents in Adverse Childhood Experiences Discourse

Davidson, E. and Carlin, E. ‘Steeling’ Young People: Resilience and Youth Policy in Scotland  

Joy, E. and Beddoe, L. ACEs, Cultural Considerations and ‘Common Sense’ in Aotearoa New Zealand

Gillies, V., Edwards, R. and White, S. Some Useful Sources

See also The Social Policy Blog, commenting on the White, Edwards, Gillies and Wastell article.

 

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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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NVR in Context

The publishers of Context, the magazine for members of the Association for Family Therapy, have graciously allowed me to pass on the link to the April 2014 issue of their magazine, which focuses on child to parent violence and NVR in particular as an appropriate model of work with families across many profiles. (There is also a slightly more legible version here)

Following the editorial from Alex Millham, you will find papers by a wide range of authors and practitioners. Continue reading

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Something to read

I’ve read a number of useful papers and other documents recently, which I have tweeted and also added to the Reading List page, but I thought it worth bringing them all together here as well.

“Am I Really a Bad Parent?” from Nancy Brule and Jessica Eckstein, looks at a communication management model of stigma and explores how parents’ responses to abuse can be understood within this framework. It has some cautionary reminders about the search for causes of adolescent to parent abuse, and also some comments on the impact on siblings. There is not so much written about this aspect of family interaction and so this is a welcome inclusion.

Caring for those who care for violent and aggressive children, is a paper from Adapt Scotland. There are some statistics relevant to the Scottish situation, but the remainder of the paper gives a very concise and helpful understanding of aggressive behaviour in children. Adapt Scotland offer trauma and attachment based mentoring and therapeutic work for families and professionals.

Supporting Adolescents on the Edge of Care. The role of short term stays in residential care, is an evidence scope from Dixon, Lee, Ellison and Hicks for the NSPCC and Action for Children. It asks what is meant by the term “edge of care”, considers different models of residential care, both in Britain and elsewhere; and looks at the usefulness or otherwise for young people (and families) of such an experience. With much debate around the use of Care for children who are violent towards their parents and other family members, I found this an interesting paper to read.

I will continue to publicise other reports and papers as I come across them, and always welcome suggestions and recommendations!

 

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Child to Parent Abuse: some new resources for professionals

As a comprehensive introduction to child to parent abuse, and guidance for professionals, a booklet from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum and Safer North Hampshire is very a very welcome addition to the shelves. Child to Parent Abuse Booklet June 2014-2 Published in June 2014, it popped up through a google alert just this week. The booklet is downloadable from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum website, (information booklet for practitioners about child to parent abuse). Further resources will shortly be available in the form of an eagerly awaited new book, edited by Amanda Holt: Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents.  The book offers information about both well-established approaches and programmes, including theoretical frameworks and toolkits; and examples of innovative practice.

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