An email to the RTE Radio 1 show, read out by Ryan Tubridy on 30th April, expressed a mother’s despair and sense of helplessness over her 9-year-old son’s behaviour towards her: “I wonder if it’s possible to admit that you can’t help your child … It’s extremely difficult to talk to people about it… You feel like you have failed your child… like it’s your fault, you’ve done something to create this.” Despite assessments, medication, therapy, courses, and other support, the violence towards her continues and she feels as if there is nothing left she can do. Reading the transcript from the show, it is easy to share the sense of helplessness. Where do you turn when all the traditional methods have led nowhere?
The email prompted a call to the show from Madeleine Connelly, senior social worker and family therapist. She highlighted the importance of parents feeling able to say they have come to the end of the road – without then being subject to shaming and judgemental responses. Talking about the abuse; ‘pressing the pause button’ – choosing to respond to a crisis at a later moment; and finding a support network, were then described by her as powerful steps to take as reported by the parents themselves. Finally, she stressed the importance of separating the behaviour from the child, with an expression much used in the practice of Non-Violent Resistance – the child is not the problem – the problem is the problem. “What we do is encourage parents to see the behaviour as an uninvited guest or an infection, that it’s not the child, it’s a behaviour, to separate it out. The problem is the problem, it’s not the child, and that helps parents to look at different ways of seeing the problem and then working together with the child.”
Working together with the child to overcome the issues – since we should not assume the child is happy with the situation – and offering hope in an apparently hopeless situation, two strong messages to take away!
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. Continue reading
As the Coronation Street story line featuring Simon’s abuse of his step-mum Leanne Battersby rolls on, Radio York featured child to parent abuse in the “Georgey Spanswick at Breakfast” show last week. For those not following the soap, there has been considerable exploration over the last months of the difficulties in the relationship, and things came to a head after an argument over the washing up when Leanne was knocked unconscious.
With three segments, (at 00.13, 01.08 and 02.07) Georgey, and reporter Sarah Irwin, interview “Kitty”, a parent who has experienced violence from her young son, and Sarah Hill, Director of York IDAS; Sandra Hiller of Family Lives; and Angela Whitlock, Parent Coach in Ripon. Continue reading
This started off as a weary rant from me today and then changed tone as the day progressed!
While it has been exciting and encouraging to see the increase in coverage of child to parent violence and abuse in the media over the last week, I have been disappointed yet again by the tone of some of the pieces and the apparent laziness of reporting.
The main headline in the Times, (you may not be able to read the next line, “Families cannot deal with minor domestic rows”) today picks up on the report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody, which has held centre stage across the media today. This highlights the often inappropriate use of custody for individuals experiencing poor mental health, or other vulnerabilities, because of a crisis in other support services; and while researchers have said that the findings show pressures faced by many families and carers, and the fact that the police are often used as the agency of last resort, the first example given – thus setting the tone – is of a dispute over a TV remote control. Other examples are given of greater severity of risk and violence. Parents are described as contacting the police because they reach breaking point. But there is no exploration of this issue in a wider way, other than to suggest lone women are finding it particularly difficult to bring up children. Continue reading
Following on from the fantastic UK media coverage of parent abuse in the second half of last year, the radio features and interviews have continued through January.
This week both Eddie Nestor, on his BBC Radio London Drive Time programme (01.21.50 – 01.26.26), and BBC Radio Oxford’s Phil Gayle with the Breakfast show (01.40.18 – 01.44.48) have brought children’s violence to parents to the attention of listeners. Continue reading
The Youth Justice Convention, hosted over two days in Birmingham, UK, at the end of November, included this year a seminar on children’s violence to parents (CPV). The convention is an annual event – this was the fourteenth – and is an opportunity to debate and discuss the latest youth justice policy developments. All the seminars are archived online and can be accessed here. (Update 2017: these videos don’t seem to be available any longer)
The CPV seminar, number 20 in the archive, was chaired by Paula Wilcox, with Martyn Stoner of Break4Change, and Paul Morris and Vicky Hodgson, from Hull Youth Offending Service, where a Step Up project has been piloted. Each gave a presentation of their project with a discussion at the end about differences and similarities. Continue reading