Tag Archives: Child to parent violence

London Mayor welcomes ground breaking report into CAPVA

Over the years there have been a number of studies investigating the issue of child to parent violence within defined geographical regions, sometimes in response to specific incidents (Northumbria for instance) and sometimes commissioned by a particular body (this work in Lancashire for instance). In 2013 Condry and Miles published the first major work in the UK, which took as the main source the Metropolitan Police data over a 1 year period. 

Each of these have shed light on our knowledge and understanding of particular aspects of this issue. However, the London VRU report, “Comprehensive needs assessment of Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse in London”, launched last week and welcomed by the Mayor of London is the first to offer a comprehensive examination of the prevalence and characteristics of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA*) within the capital, and to scope out the help available for families affected by this form of violence and abuse.

The comprehensive needs assessment was commissioned to explore the scale and nature of CAPVA in London, to ensure services and support for children, young people and families is grounded in evidence. The research findings will inform the VRU’s public health approach to violence prevention and reduction in London and, specifically, to the development of a Pan-London strategic approach to CAPVA in the coming years. 

The research, authored by Prof. Iain Brennan, Natasha Burnley, Matthew Cutmore, Dr Amanda Holt, Johnny Lillis, Jo Llewellyn, Shona MacLeod, Malika Shah, Rebecca Van Zanten, and Letizia Vicentini, and which took place between December 2020 and October 2021, included a literature review, analysis of data from the MPS and the Crime Survey for England and Wales, interviews with strategic stakeholders and a number of parents / carers and young people, as well as the involvement of a Community Advisory Group. The full report is available to read here

The research, and the response from the Mayor’s office, received significant coverage throughout the UK press, and around the world. (see for instance the Guardian report, Children and Young People Now, and ITV)

London has very far from a homogeneous population, with great disparities of wealth and circumstances across boroughs as well as within them, hindering a full understanding of the significance of some factors under investigation. Yet as in many other situations, it reflects the picture across the country in terms of the difficulties in finding help, which may be available to a family in one street and not in the next, because of boundaries and differences in training and funding.

For those already involved in work within this field, the main findings of the report will not hold surprises, and I do not intend to go over these here – please do read the report to get the full flavour. But it is to be applauded for its breadth, and for the series of recommendations (below). We also welcome the subsequent commitments made by the Mayor as part of his wider strategy to combat violence within the capital. 

  1. Establish the variation in terminology and definitions of CAPVA used by different statutory services and VCS organisations to inform the development of statutory guidance on CAPVA.
  2. Promote an understanding of CAPVA both as form of domestic abuse, as well as potentially symptomatic of other child protection/safeguarding issues such as extra-familial harm as well as exposure to abuse and violence in the family home. 
  3. Statutory guidance on CAPVA to support the development of a longitudinal dataset on the incidence of CAPVA. 
  4. Support all services to identify CAPVA and develop more specialist expertise in understanding the dynamics of CAPVA. 
  5. Encourage tailored responses to CAPVA which recognise the complex dynamics between parent and child and other family members. 
  6. Raise and embed awareness and understanding of CAPVA as a form of domestic abuse distinct from intimate-partner violence. 
  7. Facilitate greater multi-agency collaboration on CAPVA cases and consider the development of a multi-agency information sharing forum, including a review of existing forums for effectiveness & appropriateness, for professionals to discuss high-risk cases. 
  8. Train and develop CAPVA champions in each London borough’s children’s social care / safeguarding team. 
  9. Ensure pan-London coverage of CAPVA specific services for both parents and children/young people by establishing a central ‘helpline’. 
  10. Commission independent evaluation which examines the existing intervention models used to respond to CAPVA across London. 

The importance of developing a joined-up, multi-agency understanding and response to CAPVA cannot be stressed enough, and has been called for over many years, not least by families themselves. The possibility of funding for a central helpline, to both advise and direct families and practitioners, would also be a key win and foundational in building an effective, evidence-based service. Many of those involved in this research are themselves already key players in understanding, promoting awareness, and delivering support to families, and so this comprehensive set of recommendations carries the weight of many years of struggle as well as the specific findings of this research. They represent a logical journey towards a full and effective response to a problem which is finally emerging from the shadows, and receiving the attention it so badly deserves. There are many ready and waiting to implement the recommendations given the opportunity and funding. We look forward to seeing the words of the Mayor coming to fruition. 

*Use of the term CAPVA within this report was a deliberate decision formed through consultation with the CAG.

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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.

Aiming to form distinct typologies of child to parent domestic abuse, the team used a systematic literature review and examined recorded domestic abuse cases over the 26 month period from November 2018 to February 2021. They found that over 10% involved abuse from a child towards a parent, a figure which is thought probably to be underestimate because of reluctance to contact the police in such circumstances, and issues around the way such abuse is interpreted. Indeed there is a suggestion that incidence may be on the increase because of changing demographics. Also significant was the range of issues identified, including neuro-diversity, mental health diagnoses and substance use, which led to the suggestion that this is far from straightforward in terms of our understanding of such abuse.

Recommendations include the development of a more nuanced form of assessment tools recognising the specific issues around abuse from child to parent, followed by a set of interventions that take this relationship into account.

This is the first part of the research project and the second phase, which takes a longitudinal approach and examines the profile of those using abusive behaviours, is expected later in the year. You can download the first report here, and listen to a discussion about the research on Woman’s Hour here. (41.35- 52.20).

It is tremendously encouraging to see this new aspect of CPA being investigated, opening up further our understanding of the complexities of family relationships; and to see how this is very much a topic for discussion within the media, promoting greater awareness and understanding.

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Some seasonal thoughts

We* are all feeling a little emotional at the moment (covid, Strictly Come Dancing final, new grand daughter, Christmas songs on the radio), so I might be forgiven for maybe shedding a tear when I read the letter from Nikki Rutter to her co-researchers, published in entanglements. Please read it yourself – I won’t try to comment on it.

The last year has seen incredible advances in many ways in people talking about child to parent violence and abuse, in media coverage, in government funding for the development of support, and in the publication of new research. But the months of covid have, we know, also been difficult beyond our imagination for those living with this as part of their daily lives. This knowledge MUST temper our celebrations. And it should also sharpen our determination to listen to your voices, to learn from you and to hear what works, what makes things worse, what brings hope and what makes you angry or despairing. That should be our new year resolution if we make them, and that will be my hope for the next year of writing.

In the meantime, I was going to write something fairly bland and dry about opening hours over the holiday. I’ll just leave you with these links to organisations offering support at this time. Wishing you peace, and hope for 2022.

Capa First Response


Family Lives

Young Minds


* Royal we, meaning me, obviously!

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Understanding CAPVA: a rapid literature review

Last week saw the launch of a report commissioned by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office and produced by Respect, Understanding CAPVA – a rapid literature review of child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA). I was privileged to co-author the report with Dr Vicky Baker, who recently completed her PhD at UCLan, exploring young people’s accounts of using violence and abuse towards parents.

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Positive feedback

People who know me will probably tell you that I tend to shy away from conflict. Not quite “peace at all costs”, but nearly so. I’m sure it’s something I’ve carried from my childhood and, as I’m more aware of it, I reflect on when it can be a helpful stance to take – or not!

It’s something I hear of a lot, listening to parents who are living with violence and abuse from their children, as they become more and more restricted in the space they have and the lives they live in an attempt not to trigger ‘an incident’. Something that can seem helpful at the time perhaps, but ultimately this is going in only one direction. 

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Child to Parent Abuse Covenant

Time and time again I hear about the impact that child to parent violence and abuse can have on a parent’s ability to maintain employment. Whether in terms of embarrassment about injuries or taking time off sick; or having to be at home to supervise a child excluded from school, many parents have told me about the strain this places on their working life, often leading to a decision (not always voluntary) to leave a job, with all the changes this brings in terms of finances, social contact, and even housing.

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CPV: Challenging (my) assumptions

In early research it was reported (Charles) that child to parent violence (CPV) was an issue more likely to be found in white families, as black or Hispanic parenting practice was considered to offer greater protection through a more rigid and traditional style. And yet, in Britain, we see Afro-Caribbean young people over-represented in the police statistics when the figures are broken down. For many years now, children and young people’s violence and abuse towards their parents has been documented right around the world, whether through research or via media reporting. When I was studying the issue in 2005, I came across stories from Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Malta, and Nepal. Amanda Holt references work from both north and south America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Iran, India, and Sri Lanka; and of course we have research too from New Zealand, Japan and Egypt. Simmons et al suggest that this is a phenomenon of industrialised nations wherever they are. But how do we interpret this sort of information, and what conclusions do we draw? What do assertions and data such as these really tell us about what is going on? What assumptions underlie the work we do?

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Raising awareness #FASD

You may have noticed on social media that today (September 9th) is International FASD awareness day – and in fact the whole of September is FASD awareness month! FASD (which stands for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) is now recognised as affecting more people than autism or ADHD. FASD is a group of lifelong conditions affecting people in different ways physically, emotionally and behaviourally, and because not everyone will be affected in the same way it is not always diagnosed early on. As a developmental condition there is no cure, but early diagnosis is important in order to be able to put support systems in place to help families cope and thrive.

Because some of the effects of alcohol on the developing foetus relate to later difficulties in processing information or in regulating emotions (for instance) some children with FASD will show patterns of difficult and challenging behaviour, sometimes using violence in the home and towards their parents and carers. Understanding more about FASD can help with understanding what is going on behind child to parent violence, and can be an important start in putting in place the networks and systems that are so vital for families in this situation.

The National Organisation for FASD is a good place to start (in the UK) if you want to develop your own awareness and understanding. There is a very helpful Preferred UK Language Guide on their website. Sandra Butcher, their CEO has been busy tweeting all day and you will find a lot of links to other resources from her, and news of anticipated policy changes.

If you’re on social media and you want to keep in touch with the latest research findings, policy and training, these are some people that I have found helpful to follow:

There are many more, I’m sure you’ll find the people who you can connect to best!

FASD is just one of the many different issues which can lead to families experiencing CPV. Its good to see that this condition is closer to getting the attention it deserves.

See the Government website for Guidance published September 9th on health needs assessment of families affected by Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

To download factsheets about FASD produced by FASD Hub Scotland click here.

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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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New VAWG consultation open

The Home Office has launched a Call for Evidence to help inform the development of the next Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy for England and Wales (2021 – 2024). The consultation runs for 10 weeks, closing on 19th February 2021. This will be the third iteration of the VAWG strategy, and although the first 2 have included mention of child and adolescent to parent violence, the content and resulting action has been disappointingly little so far. (See more in my blog posts about this here and here.)

There is a move to consider Domestic Abuse crimes specifically and separately in a consultation to follow Royal Assent of the Domestic Abuse Bill next year. However, it is recognised that this will also be included within the VAWG strategy. Views are sought from those with lived experience of, or views on crimes considered as violence against women and girls. This includes those involved in research, in preventative work, or in the development of and provision of services. The government is particularly interested to hear from those who feel under-represented in previous strategies, or whose needs are not currently supported.

This will be an excellent opportunity to attract further attention to the issue of child and adolescent to parent violence at higher strategic level, so please do consider taking part. While we would want to divert young people from the criminal justice system in terms of response, there are many instances where actions might be considered crimes, and parents choose to involved the police for their own safety and that of their young person. It is currently through police data that we are building a picture of the range and prevalence of behaviour; and with ongoing work training police in recognising and responding to C/APV it is arguably even more important that it gains greater recognition at government level.

There are a number of ways to submit evidence, which are all outlined on the relevant Government website pages, but the easiest way is to complete the public survey.

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