Category Archives: Research

“Maternal abuse by children”, preferred terminology in Spain?

An interesting read from the University of Granada – and a potential discussion starter!
In the UK we seem to have settled on phraseology around variations of Child to Parent Violence/Abuse, though this in itself does not fully cover abuse in family groupings such as fostering, kinship care or even residential settings.
There is similarly room for discussion around the gendered nature of the abuse, and I am sure a number of people will have comments to make on this.
However, I cannot personally comment on the situation in Spain, and I am happy to accept that different cultural patterns of child rearing and family life around the world will impact on the way this aspect of family violence plays out.
Worth following the links though for some further reading as well.
Please note that the text of the research paper itself is Spanish.
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A study proposes to elaborate the term ‘parental abuse by children’ after concluding that mothers are the main victims

15 November 2017 University of Granada

Sandra Jiménez Arroyo, researcher at the University of Granada (UGR), explains the necessity of analyzing this kind of violence, which is the fourth most common crime committed by children, taking a gender perspective

Mothers are the main victims of parental abuse by children, so this kind of abuse should be legally considered as violence against women. That is the conclusion of a research paper written by Sandra Jiménez Arroyo as a result of her doctoral thesis, co-directed by UGR professors María José Jiménez Díaz from the Department of Criminal Law and Francisco Javier Garrido Carrillo from the Department of Procedural Law. Moreover, the researcher proposes alternative terms for this phenomenon, such as for example ‘maternal abuse by children’ instead of the accepted ‘parental abuse by children’, which hides the main victim.

The goal of her research is to give an answer to the problem of this kind of abuse not having a common definition. Besides, there are very few scientific studies about it, especially in a legal framework. In fact, parental abuse by children is the least studied among the different kinds of abuse within the family. A lot of definitions are ambiguous as a result of those determining factors.

The current definition is even worse if one takes into account that parental abuse by children is nowadays the fourth most common crime committed by minors. Jiménez Arroyo notes how, from the public sphere, victims are not sufficiently encouraged to report aggressions committed by their underage children.

Parental abuse by children is not a new problem. Despite the shortage of a theoretical body and protocols of action against this type of violence, the ‘battered parent syndrome’ was already described in 1957. What has been done since, despite being essential for progressing in the reduction of the violence, seems insufficient. In order to adopt mitigating measures for this problem it is necessary to further research about it, especially from a legal perspective, according to Jiménez Arroyo.

The first step is identifying the victim. The researcher analyzes almost all of the studies carried out in Spain and other countries, and she concludes that the mother is the victim in most of the cases, although she’s not the only one. The father is also a victim sometimes, but he’s rarely the only victim: in most of the cases he’s a victim along with the mother.

While trying to establish the origin of the violence against the mother, the study has shown that even though minors think that men and women should be equal, in practice they are not coherent with that thinking and discriminate against their mothers.

Therefore, gender roles imply that this kind of violence is more pronounced against women. Abusive minors show that tendency by adopting a patriarchal stance. Thus, from the results of several Spanish and international researches, Jiménez Arroyo states that the abuser profile is that of the male son and the victim profile is that of the mother, and therefore she refers to parental abuse by children as a type of violence against women.

“It is essential” -Jiménez Arroyo says- “to carry out more researches analyzing this violence from a gender perspective including gender-segregated studies and going into detail about the influence that this violent phenomenology could have on other women present in the household”, not just the mother.

The UGR researcher keeps analyzing this type of violence. Her article “Violencia filio parental: tratamiento jurídico y respuestas desde la jurisdicción de menores” (Parental abuse by children: legal treatment and responses from the jurisdiction over minors), in which she addresses that phenomenon from the perspective of the legal responses that are most suitable for dealing with said violence, won the academic award Premio Académico José Luis Pérez Serrabona y Sanz. Moreover, the Banco Sabadell Foundation has granted her a scholarship for finishing her doctoral thesis about this same subject matter.

 

Full bibliographic information JIMÉNEZ ARROYO, S. “Madres victimizadas. Análisis jurídico de la violencia filio parental como un tipo de violencia hacia la mujer”. Anales de Derecho, vol. 35, núm. 1, 2017.
Available here

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CPV: Call for abstracts

Calling all academics and practitioners, working in the field of Violence Prevention …..

The Centre for Violence Prevention 2018 Annual Conference takes place at the University of Worcester on 4th – 5th June 2018, with the title: Violence Prevention at the Intersections of Identity and Experience. Abstracts are invited on a range of topics, including child to parent violence.

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Child to parent violence: the voice of the young person

I am very aware when writing and collating material for training purposes, that while we have significant contributions from parents affected by abuse and violence from their children, there is much less attention given to the voices of the young people concerned.

We are not without this completely. Interventions such as Break4Change specifically video young people as part of the programme, using their voices as part of a conversation with parents. Some of this material has been available in training and research reports. Television shows, such as My Violent Child, have at times included direct interviewing of the young person concerned. Books such as Anger is my Friend mediate the teenage voice though years of practice experience. Research reports may include testimony from young people, though often it will be as reported or interpreted by their parent. But Barbara Cottrell is unusual in devoting a whole chapter to the actual teenage voice in her book: When Teens Abuse Their Parents.

I was interested then to read today the recent findings of some research looking at the way professionals gate-keep young people taking part in research. Blogging on the NSPCC websiteDr. Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Dr. Elly Hanson and Pat Branigan discuss the challenges presented by professional gatekeeping – and how to overcome them, to ensure even vulnerable young people are heard.

Certainly all the issues identified in this paper pertain to work with children using violence themselves, but is it true also to say that in the case of child to parent violence there are other issues that make it more difficult than normal? Naturally we need to be aware of the possibility of escalation or of creating further difficulties for the family when we have finished; and parents may be justifiably cautious about allowing researchers to meet with young people because of specific diagnoses that would make interaction with strangers problematic. I do believe though that in many cases there are ways of getting round these difficulties with creativity and sensitivity – as well as good ethics and professionalism. If we are to completely understand the issues affecting children; and to find the most appropriate ways of working to bring about change, we cannot neglect such an important part of the family system.

 

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Child to parent violence and adoption disruption: Learn on the go

Learn on the go is a Community Care Inform series of podcasts, “where we discuss what the latest research findings mean to your practice”. The first episode of the series considers the issue of adoption disruption, summarising the research and discussing what can be learned from it. It includes interviews with Julie Selwyn, and Elaine Dibben, looking particularly at the groundbreaking report: Beyond the Adoption Order, as well as other linked papers. The website gives a fuller summary of the discussion, with timings and full references. Child to parent violence is unsurprisingly a big part of the discussion!

 

Finding this has inspired me to set up a new page which will offer links to audio and visual resources. I will continue to add to it as I find anything, so please send your own suggestions. Many thanks as always.

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“It’s been an absolute nightmare”: report from Australia into kinship care

I am grateful to Eddie Gallagher for bringing a new report to my attention. “It’s been an absolute nightmare”, Family violence in kinship care, was published by Baptcare in September 2017. The report, written by Rachel Breman and Ann MacRae, draws on the responses to a survey of kinship carers in the state of Victoria, into the types, frequency and impact of family violence directed towards the kinship care placement, from close family members or from the child themselves. This group of people offers care to children in both statutory and voluntary placements, the true number of which may be significantly higher than the number known about. They were found to be particularly under-supported, and experienced additional risks, threats and actual violence because of the family link. Violence and abuse from the children and  young people themselves was associated with the experience of trauma and attachment issues. There is an interesting section on the reasons these families find it difficult to report the abuse. Recommendations are made for better understanding, training and service provision for these families.

Many of the issues will resonate for those familiar with the experience of abuse by foster and adoptive parents, but there are specific additional risks and issues identified, including the often unplanned and sudden nature of the placement, the loss of employment and life plans, as well as ongoing relationships with the child’s parents. Where the arrangement was informal, there were real problems in accessing therapeutic help.

Baptcare has produced a number of videos about their work which are available on YouTube. In this one Ann MacRae and two kinship carers talk about their experiences and the findings of the research project.

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Exploring Child to Parent Violence: PhD opportunity at Bradford University

This PhD is particularly concerned with adult children, where those children have learning difficulties or ASD diagnosis, and their violent, challenging behaviour is directed towards parents.

Project Description

To what extent is child to parent violence recognised within the legal system, as adults with challenging behaviours commit acts of violence against their parents and how is this experienced as an everyday occurrence?

Adolescent to parent violence (APV) has, in recent years, been recognised as something different to domestic violence. This is often due to the fact that those experiencing the violence are the parent, more often the mother, and therefore do not want their ‘child’ to face charges and go to prison. However, in the context of learning difficulties and ASD people who are violent towards family members are not always under 18 and so do not fit within the adolescent to parent age group.

What can we understand about this phenomenon? How does a parent, more often a mother, manage these practically volatile emotionally charged encounters? What can social care do to support these families without fear of the incarceration for their son or daughter? How can this contribute to a ‘safeguarding’ agenda?

We are looking for PhD students who would be able to carry out qualitative research with family members, offenders, or those who work within this challenging area.

 PLEASE NOTE: This opportunity is for self-funded students.
More information and application details here.

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Long ignored, adolescent family violence needs our attention

This piece was originally published in The Conversation (politics and society) July 3rd 2017

 

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Adolescent family violence has detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of families, and is surrounded by stigma and shame.
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Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Monash University; JaneMaree Maher, Monash University, and Jude McCulloch, Monash University

Family violence and youth justice have been subjected to an intense focus in Australia in the past year. Reviews have revealed the failure to provide effective responses to these issues. Government responses to family violence have emphasised the importance of perpetrator accountability, while in the youth justice field recent reforms have seen a toughening of legal responses.

Adolescent family violence has implications in both of these areas. However, it has been the subject of limited inquiry.

Adolescent family violence is violence used by young people against family members. Most often, it refers to violence occurring within the home.

It is distinct because the adolescent requires ongoing care even when violent, which mean responses used in other cases of family violence can’t readily be applied. It has detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of families, and is surrounded by stigma and shame.

Extent and impact

Data from the Melbourne Children’s Court show that between July 2011 and June 2016, there were 6,228 applications made for a family violence intervention order where the respondent was 17 years or younger. There were 4,379 cases involving a male adolescent, and 1,849 cases involving a female adolescent.

In 45 cases, the respondent was aged ten-to-11-years-old. In more than half the cases, the affected family member was the female parent of the adolescent.

Existing international and Australian research suggests that adolescent family violence is largely unreported. Consequently, rates of recorded adolescent family violence are likely to underestimate its extent. There are complex reasons for reluctance to report. They include parental shame and self-blame, fear of consequences for the adolescent, and an inability to locate an appropriate service.

Our research into adolescent family violence, which includes an anonymous open survey of those affected, reveals a wide range of abusive behaviours. These extend well beyond physical violence and include coercive and controlling behaviours, property damage, and economic abuse.

One participant described:

Having doors broken in my home either through continuous banging, punching or throwing bricks through the glass. Having a teenager scream and yell at me, swear and belittle me. Being spat on. Having a teenager stand over me and using threatening behaviour to get what he wanted such as money or other items of value.

The effects are severe. People described “walking on eggshells” in their own homes, experiences of depression and stress, and social isolation:

I don’t invite people into my home because of the damage and because my home environment is very unpredictable. I have lost a lot of confidence in my abilities and feel like a failure as a parent. I don’t get much sleep as I am constantly worried for my son’s wellbeing.

Recognising vulnerability and complex needs

Adolescents who use violence in the home often have complex needs and may have experienced family violence themselves. Parents described their adolescents as suffering from substance abuse problems, depression and anxiety, and mental health and intellectual disability disorders.

As one parent described:

My 13-year-old son had major depression and anxiety combined with poly substance abuse. Whenever we tried to challenge him even slightly about his drug use or general behaviour, he would get extremely angry – acting in a threatening manner by standing over us and yelling, hurling abuse and saying horrible derogatory things about us, punching holes in walls, slamming doors until they broke.

All of this was very traumatic and sometimes quite terrifying.

Another recognised her son’s needs, but struggled with the impacts:

My son is 13. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and experiences overwhelming sensory overload with his body flooded with adrenalin. He deals with this by fight or flight, the default being fight. Mostly this involves lashing out with his fists, but he has attempted to use weapons, such as a knife. This only happens when he is overloaded but is frightening nonetheless.

The criminal justice system is not the answer

Recognition of the complex needs of adolescents who use violence in the home suggests that, while family violence committed in any context must not be excused, there is a need to respond to this particular form of it – where possible – outside of the criminal justice system.

Our research is revealing that families who have experienced adolescent family violence and those working with them feel the criminal justice system is not appropriate.

In contrast to cases of intimate partner violence, where separation of the parties involved and obtaining an intervention order or court outcome may be a priority to ensure safety, parents often want to maintain the family unit in adolescent family violence cases, and are acutely aware of the stigma and consequences of criminalising their child’s behaviour.

Survey respondents describe the reasons why they had chosen not to contact police. One mother commented:

We were worried that if we called the police things would escalate more … We also thought that if we called the police we would completely lose any remaining trust or relationship with our son.

The small number of survey respondents who did contact police felt such interactions were unhelpful. One mother said:

On each occasion, I have felt that the situation was futile. Through calling the police [our son] felt like I have betrayed him … it did not result in an outcome where our family got any support or help.

The need to move away from criminal justice responses is important to emphasise in the current political climate, where youths are increasingly facing more punitive consequences for using violence.

Recognition of the complex needs of all those impacted – including adolescents who use violence, and their parents, carers and siblings who are victimised – reinforces the need to look beyond punitive justice responses in tackling this form of family violence.

New knowledge and new specialist responses

Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence found that there is a limited understanding of adolescent family violence among family violence specialists, youth and family services, and in the justice system.

Our research aims to contribute to urgently needed knowledge about adolescent family violence’s nature, extent and impacts. Across Australia there is a need to better understand this complex form of family violence, and to develop specialist knowledge and multi-agency responses.

Effective responses will require government commitment in terms of specialist funding and the resourcing of new forms of integrated service responses.


If you have experienced adolescent family violence, please consider sharing your experience with us via our anonymous online survey.

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Monash University; JaneMaree Maher, Professor, Centre for Women’s Studies & Gender Research, Sociology, Monash University, and Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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