Category Archives: Research

Violence to grandparents in kinship care roles

The show must go on as they say, and so the launch of findings from a research project investigating violence towards grandparents took place this week with all the requisite fanfare – but online rather than as originally envisaged! Perhaps it is a metaphor for the situation experienced by the 27 grandparents interviewed for this study by Dr Amanda Holt and Dr Jenny Birchall, in that their life had taken a sudden and often dramatic change of course with the arrival of the grandchildren they were caring for.

This is the first qualitative research project in the UK to explore the experiences of grandparents who are subject to violence and/ or abusive behaviour from their grandchildren, with whom they are in a kinship care relationship; and took place between June 2018 and January 2020. The individuals had been recruited specifically because they had experienced abuse, and all described shocking and often daily experiences of violence and abuse directed towards them as well as to property, sometimes involving weapons and leading to extreme injuries. While there were a variety of “triggers” the respondents were unanimous in attributing the abuse to the trauma and loss the children had experienced (most often as a result of domestic abuse, mental health problems, substance use or child abuse / neglect). Grandparents play a vital role when they step-up, in keeping children out of the care system, and out of the youth justice system, but the difficulties implicit in such placements are poorly recognised, whether with regards to the relationship with the grandchildren – or indeed their own children. Unsurprisingly, given how little known and understood this aspect of family violence remains, all the grandparents reported problems accessing help and support from a range of services. Interestingly the police were often reported to have been the most responsive and compassionate. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for policy and practice, from a universal and early intervention stage, through very specific tailored support, including a change in mindset and proper funding.

This research project has shown how much broader we need to be thinking in terms of violence within the home. While we have become accustomed to thinking about domestic abuse / intimate partner violence and child abuse, with a developing understanding of elder abuse and even child / adolescent to parent violence, this aspect of abuse towards grandparents (and kinship carers) has been sorely neglected in study, policy and provision. The call for greater training, support, research – and importantly funding – outlines some very specific avenues for development. It is crucial that we offer support early on in these families’ journeys. To ignore them merely adds to the distress, trauma, injury and hardship further down the line, both for the children and for those who have made unexpected changes to their life plans to accommodate their needs.

For more information about the research study I can heartily recommend the project website, which has been created in lieu of a national launch. It’s easy to navigate and really accessible with clear sections explaining the research project itself, with information generally about children’s violence to grandparents, about Amanda, and signposting to help for those impacted. Finally, the website includes a podcast in which Amanda talks about the project and discusses the findings with Lucy Peake, CEO of Grandparents Plus, John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development with CoramBAAF, and Dunston Patterson, Youth Justice Effective Practice Adviser.

This is an important piece of work, broadening our knowledge about violence within families, and shining a light on this hitherto neglected area. Congratulations to Amanda and Jenny!

Update June 9th 2020:  Amanda was interviewed, with Lucy Peake, on BBC Woman’s Hour this morning about her research project. You can hear the interview here (from one minute in).

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Responding to CCVAB / CPV: developing a dataset

The absence of consistent, reliable, and comparable incidence data in the field of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse is not simply frustrating; it presents a significant barrier to raising awareness and the development of a comprehensive response system. It is not only that we have no solid figures to offer, but that there is no widely adopted method of counting in the first place, compounded by the understandable reluctance of families to seek help and become one of those statistics. A new piece of research from CEL&T and Northumbria University in conjunction with Northumbria Police, released this week, sought to develop a dataset which could be adopted easily, and would provide vital information about those young people coming to the attention of the police in order to better inform the development of services. This particular piece of work is one of the strands coming out of the 2016 DHR into the death of ‘Sarah’. The research, and subsequent report, uses the term CCVAB: Childhood challenging violent or aggressive behaviour. The findings were presented to the police on Friday, 24th April by Al Coates, Dr Wendy Thorley, and Jeannine Hughes; and released to the public on Monday 27th.

It is shocking reading serious case reviews and domestic homicide reviews to see how often the same issues come up again and again. So while the background to the recent drive to improve services in Northumbria has been tragic, the determination to pick up on the recommendations of this DHR (also here), and to work together to develop protocols, resources and training is to be commended.  Sarah was a 45 year old woman, killed in 2015 by her 16 year old son Michael, despite years of asking for help, when her difficulties were interpreted as a deficit of parenting, and the escalating risk she faced at the hands of her increasingly unwell and violent son was neither fully recognised nor attended to.

CEL&T have previously published reports into CCVAB, considering in particular different drivers – whether the violence and aggression is related to trauma for instance, or to a diagnosed mental health condition – and acknowledging the impact on families in this situation. This latest report, Policing Childhood Challenging Violent or Aggressive Behaviour: Responding to vulnerable families (Executive Summary here), builds on this framework in starting to analyse the data collected. Over two years, the research team devised a set of questions, developed a strategy for collecting the relevant data, and then considered the information they had amassed in a nine month period. In all, a total of 224 children and young people were recorded within the dataset, involved in 515 separate incidents. The dataset included the number of incidents responded to (daily, weekly and monthly), the age and gender of the child displaying CCVAB, known previous incidents for the same child, and relationship of the child to the parent / carer. There was seen to be a high representation of young people with SEND, at 28%. Predominantly biological children, the male / female split reflects that commonly found in similar research (335 male / 180 female); with an age spread in this particular data of 9 – 19 years, peaking between 13 and 16. The possible contribution of substance use, mental health, domestic violence and poverty are all considered, and a number of hypotheses developed around ACES, school attendance and stress.

It is acknowledged that calling the police is hugely problematic for many families, fearing the longterm consequences for their child; but finding other services unresponsive when they seek help, this becomes the agency of last resort. As a result, not only are these figures likely to under-represent the true prevalence of CCVAB, and in particular the rate amongst younger children, but they may also be skewed to the families who have become exhausted by their family experience, or where the abuse is at the most dangerous end of the spectrum. It might then be surprising that nearly a third of incidents were not recorded as criminal behaviour, and, of those that were, fewer than half resulted in arrest. Rather, this can be interpreted as a recognition of the importance of diverting these young people away from the criminal justice system, and finding a response elsewhere. There is great concern expressed that the current Home Office Guidance in this field is not sufficiently robust or comprehensive, and it is expected that the findings of this study will feed in to the review presently being undertaken of this document. A series of other recommendations to the Home Office, the police, social work and education call for greater training and awareness, an agreed definition, named officers, and a roll out of properly evidenced work with families. Furthermore, the current lockdown situation is recognised as offering an opportunity for the collection of valuable comparative data in understanding the key features and drivers of CCVAB / CPV.

I would urge you to read the reports, and to be encouraged that this issue is finally attracting the attention it needs if families are to be properly supported to find a way to live safely and healthily together.

 

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Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse during Covid-19

 

 

 

Last week I was interested to follow a number of conversations about some of the consequences of Covid-19 on family life. While there have been many tragic examples (for instance, increases in domestic violence abuse and homicides, in the risk of child exploitation, and in child care proceedings), it was notable that some people were also talking about the lightening of the load for their children, the increase in wellbeing even, and the easing of strained family relationships.

It was suggested that families start keeping diaries of what was working, to use as evidence in future, and I retweeted a post from the University of Cumbria asking for stories of families’ journeys through lockdown to inform council and government support services for the future.

Quite serendipitously, today, Professor Rachel Condry and Dr. Caroline Miles have launched a piece of research into the ways that lockdown has affected  families’ experience of violence and abuse from their children (aged 10 – 19), and of the ability to obtain support. They are seeking direct input from families and plan to use the findings to inform the development of policy and practice in the future. If you are interested in taking part, you are invited to complete a short survey. All contributions are anonymous, and the work has been approved by the university ethics committee. You will find more information along with the survey here, and also contact details if you have questions about the content or process of the survey. After you have submitted your replies you will be taken to a “Help page”.

Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles plan to issue interim reports as the work progresses, and I will post more here as these become available. Thank you all for your help!

 

 

 

 

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Children who engage in violence: Submissions invited.

 

IPSCAN invite submissions by May 1st for their Thinking Space Project on the legal and therapeutic responses to children who engage in violence.

GOAL OF THIS PROJECT: 

To fill the gap in knowledge about evidence-based and child rights-informed programs and strategic interventions for children who engage in violence

PROCESS:

  • To conduct an investigation into a specific child protection challenge, share theory, research and evidence-based practice
  • To develop a report that will provide the international community with a brief on high-level policy, strategy and programmatic advice
  • Catalog interventions and treatment programs for children who engage in violence
  • Understand evidence- and rights-based policies, strategies, programs and interventions of children who engage in violence
  • Ultimately reduce victimization and perpetration of violence in the short term and later in life​
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SUBMISSION DETAILS GO TO THE IPSCAN WEBSITE.

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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, Home to School and Back Again

This is the second in a recent series of guest posts. Nikki Rutter writes about the overlap between violence and abuse from children in education settings, and in the home. Nikki is an ESRC-funded Doctoral Researcher at the department of Sociology at Durham University. Her research interests include: Child-to-parent violence, domestic abuse, violence against women and girls, grounded theory. She is a member of Durham University’s Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), and Communities and Social Justice Research Group at Durham University. You can contact Nikki on twitter. See more details of her work on the CPV Research Directory.

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The New Research Page

Many thanks to all those who have sent me details of the research they are currently or recently engaged in. I have started to rebuild the Research page, which will now include “Research Requests” and also the Directory. You will be able to see who is engaged in research in the field of child to parent violence around Britain particularly, but also further afield. There will be links to contact details, title of the work and more information about the projects themselves, as well as publications. I hope that this will be informative to those thinking of work in this area, and encouraging to the rest of us!

The directory is far from comprehensive as it stands, and there is more work still to do before it is as I want it, but it’s a start. Please do contact me if you would like to be included; and of course if you would like to place a request for participants or information regarding your work.

Thanks!

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Survey: Working with adolescents using violence in the home (Victoria, Australia)

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare are consulting with organisations working with adolescents aged 11 – 18 who are using violence in the home. The purpose of this project, funded by Family Safety Victoria and being conducted in collaboration with Domestic Violence Victoria, is to better understand the nature of adolescent violence in the home and the approaches that work.

As part of this project, they want to develop a better understanding of the young people who engage in violent behaviour against other family members, including current practice issues, what works, practitioner levels of knowledge and confidence in working with these young people and their families, and training/resource needs. They are seeking this information initially through a short survey and then through face to face consultations.

(Please note this survey is now closed.)

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CPV Research Directory

There has been some interest expressed in the development of a CPV research directory. I find it incredible that only ten years people were finding it difficult to source very much literature around the issue of child to parent violence and abuse, and yet now we have research taking place at different levels, in different disciplines, in many universities across this country and around the world. A number of students have commented that it would be useful to know of other research taking place as they embark on their own studies, whether to deepen the conversation, to share findings and insights or to ‘plug in to’ a wider community.

Over the next months I propose to contact academics and students that I know to start building up a directory which would include:

  • Researcher’s name, discipline and university
  • Research title
  • Papers already published
  • Contact details if agreed

I will then start to rebuild the Research page on my website to include this new information. I already know from social media that there is far more work going on than I was aware of, and so if you don’t hear from me but would like to be included in this, please drop me a line via my contact page.

Is this something that sounds useful to you? How would you personally make use of it? Would you like to be included? Do you know of anyone else that you could point this way? Get in touch – I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

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Supporting research into child to parent violence

From time to time I am approached by individuals conducting research in this field, with a view to broadening their reach in attracting participants, or in assistance in completing surveys. I am always happy to help where I can, and to this end, I want to bring your attention to some work being conducted by Fiona Creevy, a PhD Researcher at the University of Huddersfield.

Fiona is investigating “child-initiated family abuse” from the parents’ perspective. Her work is concerned with the views of parents (and those in a parenting role) experiencing violent and/or abusive behaviour from their children under the age of 18. She is using an online questionnaire, accessed via a number of websites which offer advice and support to parents and families. Continue reading

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