When authors discuss the different ways in which child to parent violence and abuse presents, it is common to include sexual abuse in the list; and yet it is difficult to find anywhere in the literature where this discussion is expanded. I know from conversations with adoptive families that the issue is very much alive, and extremely painful to discuss. While many families fear that a request for help will result in the instigation of a child protection investigation, this is an area where alarm bells will certainly be ringing straight away. How to respond though, in a way that maintains the safety of all involved, while not further traumatising either the young person or the parents, is rarely interrogated. A recent conversation with a friend undertaking a PhD at Bournemouth University has encouraged me that more information and greater discussion may be on the way!
For many people, talking about sex and sexualised behaviours can be very challenging—let alone discussing inappropriate sexualised behaviours. When we then add sexually inappropriate behaviours from an adolescent who is also violent towards their parents, it becomes impossible for many to even think about, let alone talk about. The potential consequence of this silence can add to further isolation, fear and guilt for those experiencing adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse (APVA).
In 2015, The UK Home Office published an information guide on APVA. It mentions adolescents who present with heightened sexualised behaviours as a risk factor sometimes present when working with APVA. However, the notion that adolescents may present sexually inappropriate behaviours towards their parents or that they may intimidate their parents, remains under-discussed. The question then arises, is it under-discussed because of rarity, or is it under-discussed because of the difficulty of understanding how this might occur?
I hope to address this problem in my PhD research currently under way.
Louise Oliver, PhD Student in Bournemouth University
At the end of 2016, Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley put out a survey to start exploring families’ experiences of child to parent violence, particularly within the adopter community. I was pleased to publicise it, and have since shared the reports (here and also available on the CEL&T website) which were generated from their enquiries. While it was acknowledged that there was nothing ground-breakingly new in their findings, the work was important in opening up the discussion and allowing it to move into a broader range of meetings and departments. Whether as a coincidence or a direct result, the last year did see significant increases in the open acknowledgement of this issue.
Building on this previous work, Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley have now designed a new, more comprehensive survey to be disseminated among all communities across the UK and beyond. It is for any families experiencing child to parent violence and aggression, whether birth family, kinship carers, foster or adoptive parents, Special Guardians or any other relevant relationships. Within the first days that it was online, they have already received over 100 responses and so there are high hopes that the data extracted will give a fuller, more comprehensive picture of the experience of CPVA and its impact on families’ daily life, informing the design of support and training needs.
You can read more about this new survey, and take part, via Al Coates website, or the CEL&T website.
Please take a moment to look at the survey, to complete it if relevant to you, or to pass on to other who might be interested. The survey is open until February 5th.
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
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.
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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.