This is a bit of a different post to usual. I’ve alluded to the interest of the media in parent abuse in recent weeks, but as this has come up over and over again recently I thought it worth a mention in its own right. In a nutshell, the question seems to be, how do we reconcile our desire to raise awareness of parent abuse and the need for greater service provision, with our duty to protect the families we work with from further harm?
Over the years that I’ve been tracking this, child to parent violence, or parent abuse, has been covered in what we’ll call a “positive” way in various media: in the local and national press, in professional publications as well as academic journals, in a popular weekly magazine, on radio news and magazine programmes, in TV drama and documentary, in film and on YouTube; and those are just the ones I’ve caught. It’s also attracted attention in more dramatic and contraversial ways through programmes such as Dr Phil, where families are “paraded” in front of audiences who have chosen to be present for motives which, it’s probably fair to say, don’t include the hope of witnessing a complex, sensitive process of restoring healthy family relationships. Then there’s the other side of the story in the context of the long-term failure of mainstream agencies to respond to families experiencing abuse from their children. How will the professionals come out of this? Do we really want to put ourselves through further grief at a time when the drive is rather to find positive stories of social work involvement to bring balance to the argument? Continue reading