Tag Archives: Amanda Holt

Lockdown reflections

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here (though I’ve been busy on other pages) but I thought I would treat you today to some ramblings and reflections. Like many people I am sure, over the last 3 months I have experienced both periods of intense, pressured work to tight deadlines, and days of feeling bereft of direction and purpose. Conferences, training events and report launches have been cancelled, and it is too easy to forget the hours of work and preparation that will have gone in to them by all involved. For some families, lockdown has brought a relief as stresses have been removed, and more harmonious relationships are formed and developed. For others the pressure cooker environment has increased fear and risk. Practitioners have been forced in to new ways of working – at short notice and without always having the kit or the skills – and yet some of those ways have paid dividends as they have learned to communicate with young people electronically – on their own “territory” – for a change. Being in Lockdown has intensified the sense of importance of what we do, but also the despair that things take so long to accomplish.

Overall though, I would say there have been some real gains in the field of child to parent violence and abuse.

Mainstream media attention.

As countries around the world locked down, we started to hear reports of increases in domestic abuse. In the UK, Refuge reported a 125% increase in calls to the national domestic abuse helpline, while calls to the Respect helpline for perpetrators increased by 25% over the previous week. While most of the focus was on abuse within intimate partner relationships, there was also considerable interest in harm from young people towards their parents and carers, with interviews carried in mainstream outlets, and across radio ( for instance here and here). Some of these were responding to the immediate situation, but there are other longer pieces in process, looking to explore the issue in greater depth. It has been great, as always, to hear the coverage on Woman’s Hour, following up the launch of the research into violence and abuse towards grandparents, from Dr Amanda Holt. I like to think that each time this takes place, more journalists are persuaded of the importance of the issue and so the chances of them – and others – reporting on it in future increases. The ‘R’ in this respect is definitely more than 1!

Events moving online

After an initial period of cancellation, both trainers and conference organisers have been exploring offering their events in a different way. Inevitably there are some losses, with fewer opportunities for networking for instance, but the gains from not having to travel and so opening up the accessibility of courses should not be under-estimated. In some instances, events are being offered at minimal cost, further improving their reach. As well as bringing different speakers and attendees together over zoom (for instance), there seems to have been a flurry of interest in the webinar format, with so many more conversations available to listen to whenever convenient, and many of those working around CPV using this method to share knowledge, or to further the discussion. There is the added bonus that these are then available as learning tools for months and even years to come (many of these available on my Sound and Vision or Events pages) .

The Domestic Abuse Bill

The British government had committed to seeing this through before lockdown, and so it carries on. While the definition includes only those aged 16 and over, the process has generated significant discussion at high level about CPV, including the issues of (i) age (ii) whether this is the correct framework for understanding and (iii) the lack of resources generally for families experiencing CPV. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner is very aware of the need for development in this area, and I have confidence that the issue will not be dropped. Related to this, the Home Office APVA Guidance document is in the process of being updated, but this is likely to be a long-term project.

Social media promotion

This bit’s all about me! I was very smug recently to pass the 2000 followers mark on twitter. I’m learning more about how to use social media all the time, and have been playing around, softening my approach – and attracting more followers at the same time. For me it’s all about increasing awareness, starting conversations, and encouraging others, so I am always pleased when this is reaping rewards. This is another arena where increases are exponential too!

Time and space

Finally (for now) I think the crisis has given thinking space. This may sound ridiculous if you’re shut in with children trying to juggle your own work and also school and childcare – and my apologies if this is the case; or if you’ve been on the frontline discovering day to day new ways of responding to families. For me though, I have had a chance to pick up pieces of work and ideas that had lain dormant for a long time, and see if they still have life; and I’ve also been thinking about what needs to happen next, to complement the work happening in different places around the country, to start up a more strategic conversation. I hope to bring more news about all of that at another date.

So, if you’ve made it this far, thank you! Thanks for your interest, your parenting in the face of challenging behaviour and difficult times, your work supporting families and developing awareness, and your tolerance of my ramblings.

As always, if you have any comments please do join in the conversation.

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Violence to grandparents in kinship care roles

The show must go on as they say, and so the launch of findings from a research project investigating violence towards grandparents took place this week with all the requisite fanfare – but online rather than as originally envisaged! Perhaps it is a metaphor for the situation experienced by the 27 grandparents interviewed for this study by Dr Amanda Holt and Dr Jenny Birchall, in that their life had taken a sudden and often dramatic change of course with the arrival of the grandchildren they were caring for.

This is the first qualitative research project in the UK to explore the experiences of grandparents who are subject to violence and/ or abusive behaviour from their grandchildren, with whom they are in a kinship care relationship; and took place between June 2018 and January 2020. The individuals had been recruited specifically because they had experienced abuse, and all described shocking and often daily experiences of violence and abuse directed towards them as well as to property, sometimes involving weapons and leading to extreme injuries. While there were a variety of “triggers” the respondents were unanimous in attributing the abuse to the trauma and loss the children had experienced (most often as a result of domestic abuse, mental health problems, substance use or child abuse / neglect). Grandparents play a vital role when they step-up, in keeping children out of the care system, and out of the youth justice system, but the difficulties implicit in such placements are poorly recognised, whether with regards to the relationship with the grandchildren – or indeed their own children. Unsurprisingly, given how little known and understood this aspect of family violence remains, all the grandparents reported problems accessing help and support from a range of services. Interestingly the police were often reported to have been the most responsive and compassionate. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for policy and practice, from a universal and early intervention stage, through very specific tailored support, including a change in mindset and proper funding.

This research project has shown how much broader we need to be thinking in terms of violence within the home. While we have become accustomed to thinking about domestic abuse / intimate partner violence and child abuse, with a developing understanding of elder abuse and even child / adolescent to parent violence, this aspect of abuse towards grandparents (and kinship carers) has been sorely neglected in study, policy and provision. The call for greater training, support, research – and importantly funding – outlines some very specific avenues for development. It is crucial that we offer support early on in these families’ journeys. To ignore them merely adds to the distress, trauma, injury and hardship further down the line, both for the children and for those who have made unexpected changes to their life plans to accommodate their needs.

For more information about the research study I can heartily recommend the project website, which has been created in lieu of a national launch. It’s easy to navigate and really accessible with clear sections explaining the research project itself, with information generally about children’s violence to grandparents, about Amanda, and signposting to help for those impacted. Finally, the website includes a podcast in which Amanda talks about the project and discusses the findings with Lucy Peake, CEO of Grandparents Plus, John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development with CoramBAAF, and Dunston Patterson, Youth Justice Effective Practice Adviser.

This is an important piece of work, broadening our knowledge about violence within families, and shining a light on this hitherto neglected area. Congratulations to Amanda and Jenny!

Update June 9th 2020:  Amanda was interviewed, with Lucy Peake, on BBC Woman’s Hour this morning about her research project. You can hear the interview here (from one minute in).

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An innovative approach to working with adolescent family violence in DuPage County, Illinois

Continuing the series of guest blogs, I am pleased to bring you this from Amanda Holt, information about a service in Illinois for families experiencing adolescent family violence. I was particularly thrilled to hear from Amanda, as I have been contacted a number of times by people in the States asking for pointers and guidance in developing or accessing help. News of the screening tool is very welcome, and I was also very interested in the understanding that girls are coming from different circumstances, with separate needs. Finally, the first responder aspect is one which can hopefully feed in to similar discussions taking place in the UK at present. Please do check out all the links; there is a lot of information here and it will take a while to digest it all, but it brings a new interpretation to the table which many will find helpful I think. Thank you Amanda!

 

This month marks the tenth anniversary that North East DuPage Family and Youth Services (NEDFYS) (in Illinois, US) ran its first adolescent family violence programme, based on principles from the Step-up programme that was developed by Greg Routt and Lily Anderson in King County, Washington State in 1997. Since that time, 170 families have completed all 21-week sessions and graduated successfully: of these, only 11 (6%) were rearrested for a new offence related to family violence within 12 months after graduation. The programme itself is a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court Judges, the States Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s office, Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services and Probation and it emerged from a Models For Change four-year grant that DuPage County received from the MacArthur Foundation beginning in 2006. Continue reading

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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 Continue reading

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#CPV: What does it look like, part 2. Intent stuff

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

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Parent Abuse: Gender issues in group work

Not a very snappy headline I’ll grant you but the alternative was too cheesey – “Keeping gender on the agenda”. Yeah, I know…..

While there are a small number of studies that have found little difference between the violence and abuse from young women and young men towards their parents, the general accumulation of research seems to point otherwise, and it is likely that this discrepancy can be accounted for by the type of survey, the type of data examined, the particular expression of violence or abuse, or the ages of the young people involved. Eddie Gallagher has a chapter on gender in his commentary on the literature regarding child to parent violence, and he confirms the experience of those involved in clinical practice or the legal world, as well as recent research in Oxford and Brighton, that boys are three or four more times as likely to be involved in CPV than are girls. This difference is most markedly shown as the age increases, and the level of violence worsens. This is not to deny that many girls and young women are extremely violent and abusive towards their parents; and Gallagher also suggests that their levels of violence may be increasing. Continue reading

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Adolescent violence in the home: How is it different to adult family violence?

This article was originally published on the Australian Government website: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Child and Family Community Australia on December 8th 2015.

Jo Howard describes the issue of adolescent violence in the home, and how it differs to adult family violence.

Adolescent violence in the home has many similarities to family violence, but there are some key differences.

Adolescents who abuse their parents use similar strategies to violent men to gain control and power. They often coerce, threaten and intimidate, destroy property and possessions and physically assault their parents. Global research indicates most victims are mothers and most offenders are males – a gendered presentation similar to adult family violence (Howard 2011). However, female adolescents are also offenders and fathers and other family relatives may be victims. Continue reading

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Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: book review

With many papers and now two books to her name, Amanda Holt is a leading voice in the field of adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA), not just in the UK, but also around the world. APVA is a small but developing field, where networking provides a key method of information exchange, and it was through discussions with other academics and practitioners that the idea for this book was born. Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: Approaches and contexts for intervention explores both the different theoretical bases and approaches to the work, and the very different contexts in which it takes place. Continue reading

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Child to parent violence, nothing new under the sun

An article from the Independent newspaper from 1995 was brought to my attention by a tweet from Amanda Holt. The piece, “He’s my son. I love him. But he beats me up“, demonstrates that CPV is far from a new phenomenon, that even 20 years ago there was evidence of children as young as 8 years old involved – and that the connection with intimate partner violence for many families was recognised. In fact it brings together neatly the impact on daily lives as families try to avoid anyone knowing what is going on, the humiliation of having to ask for help, and each woman’s belief that she is the only one involved because of the secrecy around the issue.

Thankfully there is now help available at any earlier stage – but parents may still struggle to find the understanding and support they need close to home.

I believe the legislation mentioned here, the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill, was enacted in Northern Ireland, but not in England and Wales.

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Child to Parent Abuse: some new resources for professionals

As a comprehensive introduction to child to parent abuse, and guidance for professionals, a booklet from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum and Safer North Hampshire is very a very welcome addition to the shelves. Child to Parent Abuse Booklet June 2014-2 Published in June 2014, it popped up through a google alert just this week. The booklet is downloadable from the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum website, (information booklet for practitioners about child to parent abuse). Further resources will shortly be available in the form of an eagerly awaited new book, edited by Amanda Holt: Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents.  The book offers information about both well-established approaches and programmes, including theoretical frameworks and toolkits; and examples of innovative practice.

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