Research into child to parent violence and abuse in London

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.

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School based support for #CPV

I feel very strongly that school-based family workers are ideally placed to offer parents support, where there is child to parent violence (CPV). Let me tell you why.

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Raising awareness in Belgium

I often reflect on how far we have come in the UK in terms of speaking out about child to parent violence and abuse. It is too easy to live in a bubble and assume that the willingness to talk about the issue, and the development of a response is something that has happened world wide, but there are many places – even close to home – where stigma and fear prevent parents from speaking out, and where an absence of academic research leaves a hole in national awareness, and ultimately in support for families.

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Hilde van Mieghem, who has directed a number of TV documentaries in Belgium about violence within families between partners, and from parent to child – and now wants to explore violence and abuse from children towards their parents, in conjunction with Borgerhoff & Lamberigts TV. Her work is unusual in that she is not particularly interested in hearing the “what” and “when”, or in sensationalising the story, but rather focusses on the effect the abuse has on the individual, and their search for help: what feelings were aroused, the psychological impact, how people responded, how easy (or hard) it was to find help. The previous series were well received within Belgium and prompted many individuals to come forward who had not previously thought about their experiences as abusive or who had been too ashamed or afraid to seek support. They sparked parliamentary discussion, led to the establishment of new training courses for social workers and care givers, and encouraged the development of peer groups and awareness and prevention campaigns.

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CPA by any other name…

I have always welcomed guest posts on this blog, and so it was good to be able to invite Michelle John of PEGS to contribute to our mutual learning and understanding of the issues. Michelle is the Founding Director of PEGS, and has the rare combination of a background in domestic abuse advocacy, lived experience, and the willingness and ability to speak up for her fellow parents. Michelle and her team support hundreds of parents impacted by CPA, alongside delivering impactful training for organisations such as police forces and local authorities, campaigning nationally for policy change, undertaking speaking engagements and raising awareness of the issue.

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The need for “safe houses” as part of the provision in #CPV

Government of Catalonia sets up state flat for Spanish teenagers who beat up their parents

I was really interested to see this piece in The Times this morning reporting on the provision in Spain of accommodation for young people using violence within the home.

Despite the framing of the story in the headline, and indeed in the main body of the article, those offered a place will have been convicted within the juvenile justice system, and the 9 – 15 month placement will be “offered” as an alternative to remaining at home under supervision. Such accommodation is intended to provide respite for both parents and teenagers, while they undergo counselling to address their mental health and behaviour. This response to the issue of adolescent to parent violence is typical of the Spanish approach which differs somewhat to that in other countries such as Britain.

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Support for Adoptive Families

From time to time I receive books for review, particularly where they address the issue of child to parent violence and abuse. Where appropriate, I am pleased to comment on the content and provide comments for review. The new publication from Louise Allen, How to Adopt a Child, Your step-by-step guide to adoption and parenting, was one such book, and I was interested to find out about her comprehensive knowledge and experience of the adoption system. I have attached the review as submitted. You can purchase Louise’s book on Amazon (or through your local independent bookshop!) and you can read more about Louise’s work on her website.

Louise Allen makes it clear from the very first pages that this is a book with adoptive parents and their children at its heart. She writes from personal experience, laying out every aspect of the adoption process, in order that those thinking about adoption might have no surprises later. Not to put people off – unless that is the right response – but to leave you fully informed, fully armed, fully prepared to offer the support, the healing and love that will be needed. There is much about trauma, which will feature heavily for children who find themselves in need of a home. Allen pulls no punches in describing what this looks and feels like for the child, and the consequential feelings for the adults, but she goes on to offer very practical advice that comes from many years of training, parenting, and above all listening to children. As she says, “Living with a violent child that you have committed to love while everyone around you is offering their opinion is hard, very hard”. Allen is here to make it just a little less hard.

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Raising Funds to support the work #CPV

One of the hazards of seeing a need and responding to it is the constant need to raise funds to support the work. Grants may be available, but many organisations also adopt innovative and creative means. Family Based Solutions in Enfield come to mind with their Christmas single!

I recently received a request from Jane Griffiths of Capa First Response to highlight her planned sponsored walk – and I am pleased to advertise it here:

SPONSORED WALK TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CHILD TO PARENT ABUSE

Capa First Response CIC (Capa) is an online support resource for families and professionals. Capa works with the whole family, offering support and strategies to look at ways to communicate positively and repair fractured relationships, leading to reduced violence and abuse in the home. 

Since setting up in May 2020 Capa has supported over 250 families and professionals seeking support and advice, through our training, supervision, 121’s and advice and support sessions. 

To raise awareness of this issue and funds to continue the free services we offer, Jane the founder of Capa is completing a virtual sponsored walk. 

“The first parent who contacted Capa almost a year ago  lived in Powys, Wales and the first professional to contact me was from Kent, that is a distance of 197 miles. I decided I would walk this distance to help raise awareness and funds. I can’t physically walk between the two due to restrictions so instead I will be walking around my home county East Sussex. Starting on the 1st May I plan to walk almost 200 miles by the end of the month”. 

Jane is looking to reach a target of £5,000 which will enable Capa to deliver 50 FREE advice and support sessions and 50 FREE 121 sessions to families.

“It is estimated that up to 3% of families in the UK are impacted by child to parent abuse, the biggest plea I hear from parents is tell me ‘I am not alone’.

I set up Capa to support anyone , anywhere impacted by this issue including children, adolescents, parents, carers and professionals unsure of how or were  to find help”. 

You can help by donating what you can at:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jane-griffiths-2

Or walk with Jane.

You can choose to walk a few miles or the whole distance and anything in between, email Capa for information on how you can walk to raise awareness.

info@capafirstresponse.org

Your donations can make a huge difference to families lives

‘I contacted you in February and you were a saviour, when I needed to nip my daughter’s behaviour in the bud before it got worse. I wanted to say thank you and say how much you helped me and how understanding you were. Just those 3 sessions helped me understand how I could help my daughter. It’s still working and my daughter is now back in school. Thankyou’. 

(Parent accessing advice and support sessions)

‘I had an argument with my mum this week, it didn’t turn violent though I went to my room and tried to stay away’. (14 yr old accessing 121 support) 

For more information about Capa First Response CIC visit 

www.capafirstresponse.org

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“An escalation of distressed behaviour”

I was interested to read this paper from the Chief Social Workers for England, when it was published at the end of February. A spectrum of opportunity: an exploratory study of social work with autistic young people and their families looks at three things:

  • how responsive social workers were to the needs of young adults and their families
  • what barriers there were to enable more effective interventions
  • how things could be done differently to improve outcomes

I won’t go in to detail about the main body of the report – it is straightforward and easy to read, so I recommend it to you. It talks about what works well and what needs to be done better. Unsurprisingly, it points to the importance of the development of specialist knowledge in social workers, joined up work across agencies, and earlier intervention and proactive support to provide help before things go wrong; with the centrality of long-term trusting relationships between families and workers. Sadly, there is mention once again of parents’ fears of being labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘failing parents’.

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Taking #CPV Services online, Part 4 (or possibly part 5)

With a hope that we may be starting to see the beginnings of the end of lockdown, we are reminded that we won’t be seeing a wholesale return to ‘life as we once knew it’; and there are plenty of discussions about what the new normal will look like. So it’s not too late to bring you another in the series of learning from lockdown and taking services online! Hopefully there might be something here that is interesting to you, or can help inform the wider changes …

The team working at Family Based Solutions (FBS) have been delivering support to families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse since they were established (as PAARS) in 2013. As a specialist organisation, they have developed real expertise in this field, but part of their success is that they are able to offer a holistic, wrap around response to families, addressing any and all issues they face and which may be contributing to the break in relationships. Taking advantage of training opportunities, they have now adopted a Solution Focussed approach, which they have found enables families themselves to recognise the way through and to re-establish parental authority and respect. 

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What do we actually know about #CPV?

An odd question for me to be asking perhaps after all this time! I was very struck by the recent paper from Amanda Holt and Sam Lewis talking about the ways that child to parent violence is variously constructed by government and by practitioners, and the implications of this for practice. The starting positions we take, the assumptions we make may well be unconscious, but if it has taught us nothing else, CPV has surely taught us that we need to examine every assumption, challenge every preconception and get ready to believe the apparently impossible! That said, the debate as to where CPV “sits” (not quite domestic abuse, not quite juvenile delinquency, not quite safeguarding) does continue to grind on – albeit very slowly. Continue reading

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