Category Archives: TV

Compassion and responsibility

On Monday night the BBC aired Responsible Child, a drama, based on a true story, directed by Nick Holt. The programme had been heavily trailed, and so it is not offering too many spoilers to say that twelve year old Ray, the main character, is involved in the murder of his stepfather, and the story follows his trial in the adult court in the context of his early life. Children’s services and education do not come out of it particularly well. Rather the compassionate responses are those of the legal team and a particular member of staff at the secure unit where Ray finally ends up.

What we are shown is a deeply empathetic young man, trying to care for his mother and young siblings and devoted to his elder brother, his thoughts and concerns always for someone other than himself. We are encouraged to consider how much his previous experiences should determine our responses to him. Should he be in an adult court at all? How much did he really understand what he was doing? And how does our growing understanding of brain development – particularly the parts that govern thinking and reasoning, forward planning and impulse control – affect our thinking about this issue?

Why am I writing about this here, when the drama is so clearly not about a young person’s violence and abuse towards their parent in the way we have come to think about CPV?

  • Firstly, the most important challenge of the drama is about how we construct a young person’s understanding and intent, and that is a theme that does come up again and again within child to parent violence.
  • Next there is a reminder of the harm caused to children and young people living with domestic violence and abuse.
  • As we are encouraged to question whether the age of criminal responsibility in Britain is too low, it’s worth thinking about both of these in terms of the debate about lowering the age at which young people come within the Domestic Abuse legislation.
  • And finally a challenge to us all in the way we see and care for children and young people.

It’s nearly the end of the year, we’re all tired, I’m not going to unpack it any more than that now; just to thank everyone for your amazing commitment to the cause, and your insights and work throughout 2019. Many people are profoundly grateful to you!

 

If you are interested in reading further, Kathleen Heide has written extensively about children who kill their parents (here and here ), and Amanda Holt has more recently examined the overlap with child to parent violence, and with adult-child to parent violence and parricide. (here and here )

Responsible Child is available to view on iPlayer until 15th January 2020.

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Raising Awareness of #CPV, Episode 38

I am continually encouraged by the openness and indeed willingness of the BBC and other media to tackle the issue of child to parent violence and abuse. When I am contacted there is a recognition that this is an important emerging topic; and there is an understanding of the prevailing myths and that a more nuanced explanation is called for than simply attributing it to poor parenting. More than this though, I frequently hear “we covered it a while ago and promised were would come back to it later”, and ” we need to raise awareness”. Continue reading

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Abandoned to cope on their own

Once again the Victoria Derbyshire programme stepped up to the mark this week, with a segment devoted to the plight of families of children with autism, particularly Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). The programme is available for the next month only, but the film included, “I feel really bad when I hurt my mum”, from Noel Phillips, will be available for longer.

 

The programme explored problems parents have in obtaining a diagnosis of autism / PDA and then the appalling lack of support following a diagnosis. As a result of a lack of help for families, parents may be coping alone with extreme levels of violence on a daily basis, as children ‘meltdown’ when dealing with anxiety of stress. Children may be excluded from school because of their behaviour, further increasing their vulnerability. We are warned that without timely assistance, many young people are on a trajectory to prison. Continue reading

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“Hollyoaks Spoiler: Son and mother domestic abuse storyline”

Writing in the Metro last week, Soaps Editor, Duncan Lindsay revealed an interesting up-coming plot line in the soap, Hollyoaks.

Hollyoaks spoilers: Son and mother domestic abuse storyline revealed for Imran and Misbah Maalik. Duncan Lindsay for Metro.co.uk Wednesday 6 Dec 2017 Continue reading

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“He doesn’t mean to hurt”: the impact on families of violent behaviour from autistic children.

Another great programme from the BBC this week, available until November 28th. Victoria Derbyshire looked at the violence experienced by families of severely autistic children, and the difficulties for parents in obtaining support. (You can also read some of the stories here)

 

As well as introductions, and emails and texts from parents throughout the programme, there are two main sections to the item: a film from Noel Phillips (from 16.40 – 33.40), and interviews and discussion with three families and an MP (from 1.20.10 to 1.31.30). The programme ends with further calls from three families affected at 1.50.24. Some commentary is offered from the National Autistic Society, and the Local Government Association. You can view the whole of Noel Phillips’ film here. Continue reading

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Be curious

Watching the most recent series from Channel 5 about child to parent violence recently, Violent Child, Desperate Parents, I’ve been struck by the principle underlying the therapist, Mandy Saligari’s work: Be Curious.

Read or listen to the discussions around the programme, or follow particular communities on twitter, and you’ll be familiar with the common assumptions about what’s behind the abuse. Parents too soft, giving them everything they want, they just need boundaries, parents have given up, the parents don’t give a damn. Of course, they do give a damn which is why they are taking the almighty step of exposing their lives to general opprobrium via this popular medium, but that seems to be overlooked. Continue reading

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The BBC tackles child to parent violence

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.52.02

 

(Screenshot. See below for link to the interview).

This week saw huge progress in the drive to make child to parent violence less of a hidden problem, with a headline story on Monday’s Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC2, presented by Joanna Gosling.

A film, produced by West Midlands journalist Noel Phillips, led the story, and there was studio discussion from me, alongside Ann Ramsden of the Rosalie Ryrie Foundation and Seamus Oates, Executive Head Teacher of TBAP, representing the Youth Justice Board. The Family Lives helpline was offered for anyone seeking more support or information, and Anastasia de Waal chair of Family Lives answered questions throughout the day on local radio stations also picking up the story. If you listen to local radio you may also have heard stories from other families experiencing violence, and local practitioners discussing their work.

The film features interviews with a mother whose son was eventually removed from the home following violence to her, two young lads speaking candidly about past violence and abuse towards their mother, interviews with Cherryl Henry-Leach, leader of the Doncaster programme – Getting On, and Peter Jakob of Partnership Projects.

I have been asked about the figure of 4 million families being affected, offered by Noel Phillips early on in the film. This comes from the 2012 4Children report, The Enemy Within, based on a YouGov survey, which asked families about their experience of conflict and violence.

We are all very excited to have been involved in this, and look forward to further development of these stories being taken up in the same way in the future.

 

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