Whether in the way we think and talk about child to parent violence and abuse (CPVA), in the way programmes are designed and delivered, or in the way services are commissioned, many of us are acutely aware that there are huge gaps in understanding and representation. Assumptions about parental practice, about relationships with authority, or access to services, are the obvious points at which every person’s own experience impacts the way we think of what is ‘normal’. But it goes much wider than this and we would do well to take the time to listen more to those who bring a different voice and experience.
Anu Adebogun was one of the researchers with Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles, who examined the impact of the covid pandemic for families living with CPVA. She is now engaged in her own doctoral research at Oxford University looking at the experience of Black mothers living with CPVA, and is seeking participants from the Black community in order to broaden and deepen both our understanding and practice. Anu says, “I am interested to hear the views of Black mothers because their experiences and perspectives have not been considered in research. Nor has the role of culture, religion, race and ethnicity in shaping help-seeking for CPVA been explored.”
If this is something that you recognise as true for your family life, please do consider whether you can help in developing our understanding further. If you are unsure or you have questions, you can contact Anu using the email address given on the poster. If you would like to complete the online survey, you can follow this link. You will also find more information about Anu, and about the research there.
If this is an issue that is of interest to you, or which affects you personally, please do take a moment to look at this current research project, coordinated by AVA. AVA are seeking to recruit up to 5 women with personal experience of abuse from adult children, in order to increase understanding and awareness and to inform the future development of services in this neglected area of policy and practice.
Full details are available here. The deadline is Friday 29th July.
One of the constant features in recent reports about child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse has been the problem that there are few evaluations of the effectiveness of the support offered to families by the various programmes available. However, whether because of the rising interest meaning there is more funding available to pay for evaluation research, or because of the length of time many programmes have now been running contributing to more meaningful data, we are now starting to see increasing numbers of reports beyond the annual returns submitted to funders. The team at Safe! have recently commissioned such research, and I am pleased to share their report here, in a blog authored by Alice Brown, Service Manager for the Building Respectful Families programme.
Over the years there have been a number of studies investigating the issue of child to parent violence within defined geographical regions, sometimes in response to specific incidents (Northumbria for instance) and sometimes commissioned by a particular body (this work in Lancashire for instance). In 2013 Condry and Miles published the first major work in the UK, which took as the main source the Metropolitan Police data over a 1 year period.
Each of these have shed light on our knowledge and understanding of particular aspects of this issue. However, the London VRU report, “Comprehensive needs assessment of Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse in London”, launched last week and welcomed by the Mayor of London is the first to offer a comprehensive examination of the prevalence and characteristics of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA*) within the capital, and to scope out the help available for families affected by this form of violence and abuse.
In my own book, Child to Parent Violence and Abuse: a Practitioner’s Guide to Working with Families, I included examples of how different individuals had sought to “make real” the issue of data, and prevalence of CPVA for their own work and that of other practitioners and policy makers. Elizabeth McCloud had spoken to me at a conference some years earlier about the project she was undertaking, and she is one of the people referenced in my work. So I was thrilled to hear that her research was completed, and available to all. My one regret is that I did not find the time to read this earlier.
I was chatting to someone recently and we were pondering the next direction for research in the field of child to parent violence and abuse. We are not without guidance in this respect. Most reports and papers conclude with recommendations, including further research needed to fill gaps in knowledge and understanding, and in the development of good practice.
Indeed, in the recent rapid literature review for the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office (here and here), Victoria Baker and I made a number of proposals for the way forward, with eight separate research priorities which can be summarised as follows: 1) establishing a nationally agreed terminology, 2) collecting robust data, 3) longitudinal research looking at the long term implications including “cost to society”, 4) a focus on young people’s experiences and perspectives, 5) how the experience and presentation of CPV is affected by the intersection of different identifying factors and situations, 6) high risk cases and those involving sexualised behaviour and abuse, 7) robust examination of context, and 8) the impact of COVID-19 for families and support services.
Following on from my last post, and in one of those pleasingly serendipitous moments, it was great to hear the announcement this week from Professor Nicola Graham-Kevan and team at UCLancs, who have been researching child to parent domestic abuse from children over the age of 16, in conjunction with the Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire Violence Reduction Unit, in a Home Office funded project: Understanding Child to Parent Domestic Abuse in Lancashire.
Much work exploring child and adolescent to parent abuse comments on the difficulties inherent in hearing from the young people themselves, skewing the literature towards an interpretation of the phenomenon through a particular lens. Sometimes parents feel uncomfortable putting their children forward, sometimes agencies express concern that it would be inappropriate or potentially damaging, sometimes ethical factors around risk preclude the involvement of these voices in research. As a result, there is a focus on the point of view of parents and practitioners, and an important aspect of understanding and analysis has been absent up to now.
I have been asked by Amanda Holt to post this request for practitioners based in London to consider taking part in an important research project. The surge in interest in child to parent violence and abuse over the last year has been truly impressive, and this research, commissioned by the London Violence Reduction Unit, seeks to move beyond interest to understanding, and then hopefully on to provision.