The field of child to parent violence and abuse is a rapidly changing one, as new learning and understanding emerges to challenge our way of thinking and service delivery. This makes it an exciting field in which to be working – but also requires us to be on the ball with new research and training opportunities. This last year has seen important work from Dr Hannah Bows into parricide and eldercide; and more findings from a survey of parents by Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, including a challenge to the definition currently in use. Have we got it wrong when we draw distinctions between children, young people and adults in the use of violence towards parents? Should we be using different approaches where children have a diagnosis of ASD or ADHD? Is this a different thing all together, or are there huge overlaps within the community of young people using violence and abuse in the home? Should we be representing this with a giant Venn diagram?
If those sorts of questions interest you, then join us at the Respect Young People’s Service National Event in Gateshead, on September 26th, from 10.30 to 4pm. Dame Vera Baird DBE QC will be chairing the morning session, and there will be presentations from Rosie Creer of Respond, and Dr. Hannah Bows. Workshops will give a flavour of different approaches to working with families, including the Who’s in Charge? programme, Break4Change, work with young people on the autistic spectrum, what we can learn from MARACs and IDVAs, setting up a local authority embedded programme, and Dr Wendy Thorley discussing the findings of her research.
Full details of the event, including more information about each session, venue, costs and booking can be found here.
Respect Young People’s Services Event focuses on pioneering work with young people who use violence, abuse and challenging behaviour particularly within the family. This participative event will engage you in new thinking and approaches to complement your work.
You may have been following the discussion opened up by Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, following their survey of adoptive and foster families at the end of 2016 (here, here, here and here), and then the enlarged questionnaire to all families experiencing violence and aggression from their children of 2018. If so, you will already be aware of the way in which the responses brought to the fore a number of difficulties with the way in which CPVA is understood and conceptualised; particularly around intent, and children who have either a recognised mental health diagnosis, learning difficulty, or have experienced trauma in early childhood. Two documents are now available, comprising a full and detailed analysis of the recent survey responses, and an extended summary of the main discussion points and recommendations. The first is available through Amazon, the second as a free download from Academia. Continue reading
At the end of 2016, Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley put out a survey to start exploring families’ experiences of child to parent violence, particularly within the adopter community. I was pleased to publicise it, and have since shared the reports (here and also available on the CEL&T website) which were generated from their enquiries. While it was acknowledged that there was nothing ground-breakingly new in their findings, the work was important in opening up the discussion and allowing it to move into a broader range of meetings and departments. Whether as a coincidence or a direct result, the last year did see significant increases in the open acknowledgement of this issue. Continue reading
Another cracking podcast from the Adoption and Fostering Podcast team!
Episode 26 features an interview with Delyth Evans, Service Manager at the Centre for Adoption and Support. Delyth and Al Coates talk about the experience of child to parent violence within adoptive families. I have been asked a lot recently about safety plans and so of particular interest to me were discussions about family safety planning and safe holding, and all within a context of safeguarding the whole family.
The Centre for Adoption Support offer a three stage support programme for families,
- A 1 day workshop on child to parent violence
- An introduction to the principles of NVR
- A workshop on how to manage challenging behaviour at a practical level
and family safety plans are described as fundamental to the whole offer. The emphasis is very much on understanding the violence in context, rather than as a specific incident; and in supporting parents to find strategies to manage their child’s behaviour while keeping the whole family safe.
Well worth a listen!
I am thrilled to announce that I will be speaking about child to parent violence and abuse at the Community Care Live 2017 conference in London on September 26th, along with Al Coates. As one of the flagship social work events of the year, this is a real privilege, and it feels like an important milestone in the development of awareness and better support for families.
We will be presenting on why CPVA happens, and how to respond when a family seeks help.
- What research tells us about risk factors associated with child to parent violence, and what the most common ages are for abuse to start.
- How the abuse affects parents, and what they want from social workers and services.
- The different issues raised when child to parent abuse emerges as an issue for a child who has been adopted, or is in a foster care, kinship care or special guardianship placement.
- How social workers and services can support families experiencing violence or abuse.
Do come along and say hello (and hear us speak!) We have the early slot on the Tuesday, so no excuses!
One of the issues that makes it difficult for us all to talk about child to parent violence and abuse is the fact that there is no one agreed definition. The one I tend to use when speaking to people is that proposed by Amanda Holt:
“A pattern of behaviour, instigated by a child or young person, which involves using verbal, financial, physical and /or emotional means to practice power and exert control over a parent”, and “the power that is practised is, to some extent, intentional, and the control that is exerted over a parent is achieved through fear, such that a parent unhealthily adapts his / her own behaviour to accommodate the child.” Continue reading
I am grateful to Dr Girish Vaidya, Clinical Director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, for allowing me to repost this recent blog on his experience of discussing CPV with colleagues.
Originally published on April 8, 2017
Ever since I presented at a national conference
on Child on Parent Violence (CPV), I had been left pondering about it. It’s not that I hadn’t had been exposed to CPV incidents in my professional life. Indeed, my work as an Expert Witness for the Family and Criminal Courts regularly acquaints me with families where CPV happens. What was different this time was that it was a number of different (and diverse) sources who were complaining of CPV. Whether it was a Yvonne Newbold
in her Radio 4 programme or Hannah Meadows
or Al Coates
as parents of adoptive children – the origins of their CPV were diverse. Yet, the impact was the same – the feelings that all parents of children who assault them have.
Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley’s 3 reports (the last of which is linked here) into an online research project provided fascinating reading and prompted me to present the subject in a CPD seminar for fellow psychiatrists in Sheffield’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). I was particularly keen to share the findings of the reports, my fellow professionals’ experience of this issue and how they managed to address it.
It was heartening to hear that all my colleagues were aware of the issue. When I invited them to think about the impact on the families experiencing, their guesswork was entirely in line with the findings from Al Coates and Dr Thorley’s investigation. What this meant was that once seized of the behaviour as a problem, professionals were able to consider its consequences to the children, families and wider society.
There were also some examples that colleagues offered. One Learning Disability CAMHS Consultant recalled how she was horrified when confronted with a suggestion from social services that a child – who had earlier required 5 people to restrain him – had been advised to be returned home to his frail mother. Quite a few chipped with their experience of Sheffield Children’s Social Services and expressed their pleasant surprise at the speed of response and collaborative nature of working. It was also acknowledged, much in line with what Mary Aspinall – Miles said at a recent conference, that “parents should consider carefully before calling the police”.
So, what should parents (and professionals) do when dealing with a difficult subject like Child on Parent Violence?
My fellow psychiatrists were keen that professionals and parents work out a ‘pre-emptive emergency plan’ so that parents are not left in a dilemma about what they should do. A couple of colleagues were passionate about treating CPV on the same level of child abuse. They were also aware of the Sheffield Domestic Abuse Coordination Team’s MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). Some suggested that parents should be asked about their ability to cope vs. their ability to manage their life.
Reassuringly, there was a near universal desire to have a ‘rating scale’ on the lines of various risk rating scales that professionals use, to have a common language about CPV. (I am not aware if there is any such scale and if there is, would be keen to know about it). If there isn’t a scale, my colleagues are keen to work with anyone to help develop one.
Writing this, I am reminded of an incident many years ago when one family’s holiday came in for professional scrutiny. The child had been inflicting severe violence on his parents which had destroyed many a family holiday for the rest of the family. Parents decided that they wanted to do something which didn’t wreck their other children’s holiday. They planned to take separate holidays – father with the other children and mother with the lad. They would swap the following year. It was deemed to be a demonstration of family pathology that they didn’t manage to have a family holiday without a fight. I felt that was being a bit too harsh since the family were trying to find a way out of a very challenging situation not fully appreciated by professionals. What do you think? Would you agree with Hannah Meadows’ assertion that self-care is an intelligent response to dealing with long term stress? Or would you rather that the family learn to live with the CPV on holiday?
Feedback from the CPD seminar suggested that this is just the beginning of our journey. Professionals want to know more, need to know more so that they can support more. Everyone agreed that it was a less discussed issue in clinical discussions and many emphasised that they would be on the lookout for CPV in their clinical practice in the future.
Let us continue the conversation…………………………..
If you are keen to collaborate on scientifically researching this challenge, we – as an organisation and I as a Clinical Director – would be keen to work with you.