A number of new papers – academic and discussion – have been published recently, and I have gathered them all up here together for ease.
Kerry Clarke has published the findings from her doctoral studies in the journal Child and Adolescent Social Work. The paper is titled, Adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse: Parents’ management of tension and ambiguity – an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Kerry’s research examined the lived experience of APVA of 5 families (6 separate parents). It draws out three key themes: Tensions such as wanting to resist their child at the same time as wanting to avoid violence; Ambiguities around definitions, thresholds, and identity; and then Steps Taken to manage the harm. Parents described multiple and varied coping strategies, and Clarke et al suggest that more attention should be given to the expertise of the parents, and of intervening early before violence and abuse becomes extreme.
In February, I publicised a national survey that was being undertaken regarding the Reality of Restraint for adoptive parents. The survey was conducted by Lee Hollins, as part of a fact finding initiative launched by The Open Nest charity. The survey closed at the end of February and the findings have been written up as The Reality of Physical Restraint: An Online Survey for Adoptive Parents “A Cry for Help”. The report analyses stages of a violent episode, and considers the difficulties in managing challenging behaviour, recognising that restraint is a sad reality. Parents who responded expressed frustration at the difficulty in accessing training in safely managing their child in the middle of a crisis. “The parent’s clear desire for the knowledge and skill in order to respond safely, lawfully and effectively underpinned everything”. Work examining this complex issue continues, with more in depth interviews aimed at gathering further critical insight.
Also from the Adoption camp is the final report from Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, titled Child -Parent Violence (CPV): Grappling with an Enigma. This is the third paper generated from the exploratory exercise conducted in November 2016, surveying parents about their experience of child to parent violence and the help available. It interrogates current definitions of CPV; discusses in greater depths the experiences of families both in living with a violent child and in obtaining help; and also looks at the consequences – and costs – of not addressing this issue. Final recommendations are included:
The following recommendations reflect those requested by participants within the exploratory exercise and highlight the need to address CPV in order to support not only the family members but the children and young people themselves. Overall the main recommendation from respondents is that they require non-judgemental support, being believed and listened to and respected as a parent who is seeking help not a parent who ‘can’t cope’ with ‘normative behaviour. They identify that other people’s perception of them as suitable parents or effective parents is the biggest barrier to gaining support in that professionals dismiss their concerns as ‘normative’ behaviour. Respondents continue and indicate open discussion may also help address the stigma associated with seeking support for CPV so that a true indicator of incidence may evolve to inform a range of suitable strategies and interventions these families benefit from.
Finally, Dr Amanda Holt has been continuing research into child and adolescent violence and abuse towards parents, and her most recent work, Exploring Fatal and Non-Fatal Violence Against Parents, Challenging the Orthodoxy of Abused Adolescent Perpetrators, builds on the limited information available in this field.
I’m delighted to be able to give the link to the Doctoral Thesis, on adolescent to parent violence and abuse, submitted by Kerry Clarke last year at the University of Hertfordshire, which is now publicly available. The thesis can be accessed here. Kerry is writing from within the Clinical Psychology discipline, and there are some important points made about the dearth of discussion within this field of work, particularly given that such professionals are often ideally placed and trained to support families. Continue reading
Last week, on International Women’s Day, the Government published their revised VAWG strategy, Ending Violence against Women and Girls, to run from 2016 to 2020. Much trumpeted by the government, the strategy was also met with approval by crucial organisations such as Women’s Aid and Safe Lives.
With the input of £80 million, a focus on early intervention and prevention services, improvements in commissioning services with a National Statement of Expectations, and addressing the behaviour of perpetrators, it seems a little churlish to be writing anything negative. Nevertheless, we must remember that this comes against a background of savage cuts to services over the course of this government, which has seen closures in refuges across the country, with the loss of support for women which must be made good before any real gains can be claimed. Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham and shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence writes in the Huffington Post that warm words are simply not enough. Continue reading
In March 2013, the UK government extended the definition of domestic violence and abuse, to include coercive control and to capture those affected by peer teen abuse in the 16 and 17 year old age group; a response to growing evidence of the prevalence of abuse in that group. Amid the celebration at the time, there was discussion about how this would impact those working in the field of child to parent abuse. Alongside a positive response to the recognition that violence and abuse takes place in relationships outside of those most widely recognised, concerns were raised about the importance of maintaining a safeguarding mindset when working in this field. Continue reading
We are pleased to announce that the Information Guide: Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse received Ministerial sign off at the end of last week, and is now a publicly available document on the Government website.
As this is a “live document” there is room to update it continually as more recent information becomes available. Indeed a number of typos and omissions have already been spotted and will be corrected as soon as is possible. Inevitably there will be some who feel the guidance is not as comprehensive as they had hoped for their own situation; but we believe this is a really important start in officially recognising adolescent to parent violence and abuse as a serious issue affecting many families, and in laying a practice foundation on which to build. We hope that organisations and departments will now take this and run with it – and individualise it according to their own knowledge base, skill sets, and areas of practice.
There will shortly be a report on the Manchester launch event on the Oxford APV website. Do take a look at this site, which has further information about the Oxford research project.
The second of two launch days for the Interim Information Guide: Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse took place in London on Monday. (The first was in Manchester last week.) Despite the short notice, brought about by looming general election clogging up the works of the Home Office, there was an excited and positive response both days from the 100+ delegates from across management, commissioning and frontline services. Continue reading