Tag Archives: child to parent abuse

Statutory Guidance to the Domestic Abuse Act published

At the start of the month, the Government published the Statutory Guidance to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, taking into account the results of the consultation process which took place in the latter part of last year. The guidance document is intended to “to increase awareness and inform the response to domestic abuse. It also conveys standards and promotes best practice.” The various chapters consider an understanding of domestic abuse, recognising domestic abuse, the impact on those involved, the different needs and circumstances of individuals affected, and agency responses – whether individually or as part of multi-agency groupings. While the vast majority of the document deals with abuse perpetrated by adults, it is important that there is also included the issue of young people’s harmful behaviour, whether towards their peers, or towards their parents / carers.

Laying aside the fact that some will find the inclusion of child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA) within a domestic abuse framework problematic (not least the assertion of the centrality of the desire to exert power and control), there is much in the majority of the guidance which translates to what we know to be important in working with families experiencing this: the low proportion of people seeking help for instance, but also the value of educational establishments and the health services for early recognition and routes for help. This is an area of work that we would particularly like to see developed further.

There is a large section on multi-agency work, including proper communication and sharing of information to keep people safe. This is to be applauded, and it would be good to see some way of including young people’s behaviour in more meaningful ways in future. Recognising the whole picture for families, and offering services specific to the needs of the individual situation is similarly something that we have been calling for, and welcome. The notion of Champions (point 306, page 97), is one that I have heard mooted by a number of people working in the CAPVA field recently. It would be interesting to think more about what this might look like in practice.

So, to the section specifically mentioning child-to-parent abuse, or CPA – the preferred name here but with acknowledgement that other terminology is also in use. This starts at point 32, on page 25, with an explanation of what is generally meant by this expression, acknowledging the shame involved and problems in asking for help; with more detail about support and intervention in Chapter 6:

Professionals should recognise the dynamics, impact, and risk when responding to cases of child-to-parent abuse. This may include, commissioning specialised local child-to-parent abuse services or embedding staff, within a multi-agency ‘front door’ referral system, who are trained to identify and respond appropriately to both the child and the parent victim. It is important that a young person using abusive behaviour against a parent or family member receives a safeguarding response, which should include referral to a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub or local equivalent in the first instance where a parent advocate may attend, followed by referral to Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference if necessary, regardless of whether any police action is taken. (point 235, p80)

The importance of not simply addressing young people’s behaviour within services for adults has been a point raised on many occasions, and so it is good to see it included specifically here, as is the value of a trauma-informed response. There are, of course, already many specialist services developed for both young people and their parents / carers and in operation around the country, whether in stand alone organisations, or as part of wider provision under the umbrella, for instance, of Respect, or Break4Change.

Some of the final points in the guidance document are in relation to the development of standards within work with perpetrators, to ensure safety and quality. Moving forward, we hope to see the development of standards for all work with families where young people are using violence and abuse, recognising that interventions must ensure safety, rather than risk causing further harm, and that we are starting to amass a body of evidence of what works to restore healthy and harm-free relationships.

There is much here to welcome. We look forward to seeing the outworking of those recommendations highlighted, and to the long-awaited publication of the updated Home Office Guidance to APVA (Adolescent to parent violence and abuse), later this year, which will presumably contain more specific detail.

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Research project: adult child to parent violence and abuse

The momentum continues!

If this is an issue that is of interest to you, or which affects you personally, please do take a moment to look at this current research project, coordinated by AVA. AVA are seeking to recruit up to 5 women with personal experience of abuse from adult children, in order to increase understanding and awareness and to inform the future development of services in this neglected area of policy and practice.

Full details are available here. The deadline is Friday 29th July.

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Opening up the issue of abuse from children over the age 16

Following on from my last post, and in one of those pleasingly serendipitous moments, it was great to hear the announcement this week from Professor Nicola Graham-Kevan and team at UCLancs, who have been researching child to parent domestic abuse from children over the age of 16, in conjunction with the Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire Violence Reduction Unit, in a Home Office funded project: Understanding Child to Parent Domestic Abuse in Lancashire.

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Practitioners’ Networks

It’s always encouraging to be able to share with peers, to hear of new developments and learning, swap tips and good practice, and offer advice and ideas when things get tricky. In a relatively new area such as Child to Parent Violence and Abuse we are all learning, and so opportunities to hear from others involved in similar work, whether through formal learning or through less formal sharing and discussion are much appreciated and sought after!

There are 2 such opportunities coming up:

Family Based Solutions instituted a professionals’ network during lockdown, and their next session is on October 18th. More details here.

If you work in Sussex and can’t wait that long there is a newly established Sussex Child to Parent Abuse Network, a shared venture between The Rita Project and Capa First Response, which has its inaugural meeting on December 9th*, supporting professionals working with families across the county. More information and booking here.

Please do make use of these opportunities, and also check out the Directory to see if there are other agencies near where you are based, to promote further opportunities to learn and grow together. I am always happy to post announcements such as these, so let me know if there are other similar networks out there!

*Please note change of date from that originally posted.

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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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A New Documentary about #CPVA

Capa First Response, a support and advice organisation helping families and professionals impacted by child to parent abuse, has recently been in talks with a production company to produce a documentary about child to parent violence and abuse.

This project wants to hear from any families willing to share their stories around this issue, in particular any families where the behaviour is now historic and your relationship with your child has improved. We are also looking to speak with families where the behaviour is ongoing and you would be willing to talk about this. The project is not trying to recreate a fly on the wall documentary but  look at why this behaviour happens, how it presents itself, the difficulties parents face when it comes to friends, families and authorities.
If you are interested please email Capa UK for more information.

You will be aware that there have been a number of television programmes in recent years which have centred on children’s violence towards their parents. Some of these have been more sympathetic than others, largely depending on the aims of the producers and the “story” they have chosen to tell. Understandably there is great reluctance to expose painful and very personal situations in this way, and to potentially create a document that is there to view for the rest of your and your child’s life. Sometimes it is possible to remain anonymous, for the producers to use actors or for faces to be pixellated out. Sometimes producers are keen to show “actual families” to make the story “more convincing” – but it also depends on what the story is. I have personally met with researchers who are very aware of the issues and want to make something that is not sensationalist. Sometimes these initial ideas come to nothing, Sometimes they move forward slowly!

I will always advise parents to think very carefully before committing to anything like this. To ensure they have considered all the implications and that they have proper support in place. Nevertheless, it must be an individual decision and so I continue to publicise requests when they land in my in-tray, particularly if they come from people I know and trust.

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Child to parent abuse: a literature review

Sixty years of child-to-parent abuse research: What we know and where to go, is available on line from this month, and is published in the January / February 2018 volume of the journal, Aggression and Violent Behaviour. Simmons, McEwan, Purcell and Ogloff found over 9900 English language peer reviewed articles up to December 2016 through various searches; and their paper reviews 84 specific references. After some discussion about definitions and terminology, they consider the shortcomings of existing reviews, specifically their frequent basis in a single theoretical framework, as well as the problems of reliability of much of the data, and go on to propose a more integrated understanding with knowledge from different disciplines. Continue reading

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Child to parent abuse: “The pointy end of entitlement”

The Australian media have offered considerable coverage of child to parent violence and abuse over the last year, as conferences have taken place, reports have been published, or police figures made public. But the most recent piece,  about this in the Sydney Morning Herald, was more disappointing in depicting an inevitable new world order of weak, ineffective parents and controlling, over-entitled children. Testimony from parents was matched by commentary from psychologists and educators, all stressing the changing environment and culture that young people grow up in today, and predicting mental health problems to come as this generation matures to adulthood. Continue reading


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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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Child to parent violence and abuse: a legal question

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


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