Tag Archives: CPV

School based support for #CPV

I feel very strongly that school-based family workers are ideally placed to offer parents support, where there is child to parent violence (CPV). Let me tell you why.

Parents can feel comfortable talking to staff based in schools about a whole range of issues. For many – admittedly not all – there is familiarity with the environment and at primary level particularly there may be known faces in the playground to gravitate to. As well as regular parent evenings and conversations with teachers, parents may have met with other support staff in the past.

For many families this is the first place they would choose to seek advice about parenting issues. See this graph for instance, from the 2011 Family Lives report, When Family Life Hurts (p12), showing the sorts of places that families had initially sought help for the difficulties they were facing.

Similarly, an older survey from 2001, The Home Office Citizenship Survey: people, families and communities, found that 55% of parents were aware of schools as a source of information on bringing up children, second after healthcare, and that of parents who received help from educational establishments, 84% reported finding it helpful.

School may be the first place that difficulties are recognised or named. While some children will confine the harmful behaviours to home, others will be acting out their anger and distress within the classroom, leading to opportunities to work together with parents to try to understand what is happening and how to help everyone involved. Or a child may be refusing to get out of bed and come to school, alerting the authorities that all is not well. I spent many years from 1993 working in schools in different guises, for some of the time with the organisation School Home Support. It was not unusual to hear from parents asking for help with a child who was “out of control” or who refused to get out of bed in the morning, or where teachers asked for help to prevent a child’s exclusion; and where the more obvious suggestions had already been tried to no avail. As a consequence, it did not come as a surprise to learn that one of the first support programmes for families experiencing CPV in Britain, PEACE, had arisen in schools in the Wirral.

As an almost universal service, schools can potentially reach the most families in need of help. Increasingly practitioners of many disciplines are based there to support a family’s wellbeing as well as a child’s learning and it is possible to work with a family earlier on to help prevent problems becoming entrenched. This might mean running support groups for parents experiencing child to parent violence on site, or one to one sessions, or an awareness raising session and signposting to services. There is space to work with young people on their relationships generally, and to offer individual counselling where there are concerns. It was great to read the recent blog from PEGS. Michelle was invited to take part in a school’s virtual SEND conference for parents, at which she spoke about CPV and the types of help available, including from PEGS.

Practitioners based in schools cannot do this on their own of course, but they hold a key piece of the jigsaw and have significant knowledge of families which may stretch back generations. Working together with other professionals they can help to bring hope and safety to families affected.

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Raising awareness in Belgium

I often reflect on how far we have come in the UK in terms of speaking out about child to parent violence and abuse. It is too easy to live in a bubble and assume that the willingness to talk about the issue, and the development of a response is something that has happened world wide, but there are many places – even close to home – where stigma and fear prevent parents from speaking out, and where an absence of academic research leaves a hole in national awareness, and ultimately in support for families.

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Hilde van Mieghem, who has directed a number of TV documentaries in Belgium about violence within families between partners, and from parent to child – and now wants to explore violence and abuse from children towards their parents, in conjunction with Borgerhoff & Lamberigts TV. Her work is unusual in that she is not particularly interested in hearing the “what” and “when”, or in sensationalising the story, but rather focusses on the effect the abuse has on the individual, and their search for help: what feelings were aroused, the psychological impact, how people responded, how easy (or hard) it was to find help. The previous series were well received within Belgium and prompted many individuals to come forward who had not previously thought about their experiences as abusive or who had been too ashamed or afraid to seek support. They sparked parliamentary discussion, led to the establishment of new training courses for social workers and care givers, and encouraged the development of peer groups and awareness and prevention campaigns.

Within Britain we have a number of individuals who have been prepared to speak publicly about their personal experiences whether for training purposes or in the wider media gaze, campaigning for better support as well as to bring hope to other families. In making this latest series, the company hope that Belgian families will be prepared to speak anonymously about the impact of the abuse they experience, but they want to juxtapose this with the experiences of families from other nations where the issue is addressed more openly – specifically to highlight the stigma and taboo still prevalent in that country. So yes – this is going where you thought it might be!

If you are interested in learning more about this project, with a view to being interviewed on camera, please let me know and I can pass on your details to the production company. The company very much hope to speak with parents, but if there are also young adults who have moved through this and wish to speak they would like to include them too where appropriate.

“We’re looking for people that have gone through a process of self-reflection and evaluation (maybe therapy?) in order to look back at what has happened with the needed clearness and calmness of mind.”

Obviously there are concerns about finding help for viewers who might respond following the programmes airing. I am assured that the company have given thought to where help might be available, though clearly the hope is that this will be a spring board for the development of bespoke support in the future.

I will post more details as I have them. Thank you.

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The need for “safe houses” as part of the provision in #CPV

Government of Catalonia sets up state flat for Spanish teenagers who beat up their parents

I was really interested to see this piece in The Times this morning reporting on the provision in Spain of accommodation for young people using violence within the home.

Despite the framing of the story in the headline, and indeed in the main body of the article, those offered a place will have been convicted within the juvenile justice system, and the 9 – 15 month placement will be “offered” as an alternative to remaining at home under supervision. Such accommodation is intended to provide respite for both parents and teenagers, while they undergo counselling to address their mental health and behaviour. This response to the issue of adolescent to parent violence is typical of the Spanish approach which differs somewhat to that in other countries such as Britain.

Having said that, the question of whether safe accommodation should be made available to young people using violent and abusive behaviour towards their parents in this country is one which has come up in conversation a number of times recently. Removal from the home tends to be viewed as a last resort – frequently meaning that families must reach breaking point before such help can be accessed – and might be through local authority care, hospitalisation or a residential educational placement, or within the youth justice estate if diversion is not applicable. Yet families regularly ask for respite, as a way of meeting the needs of other children, of recharging their own batteries, or indeed as a safety measure because the situation is feeling too dangerous. Who might provide this, how it would be accessed and how it fits into other avenues of help are all interesting questions that must be considered.

The recent research from Condry and Miles into the impact of Covid-19 on the issue of adolescent to parent violence and abuse specifically recommends the establishment of such provision:

4. Provide safe spaces for families at crisis point and respite care for young people

Local authorities need to consider the provision of safe spaces for families in crisis. We were told of an example in Brighton where the police are working with the youth offending service to offer a safe space for young people to go during lockdown. Previously they were taking young into custody as there were no safe spaces for them to go for a ‘cooling off’ period so they have collaborated with the youth offending service and a family support service to offer a safe space for young people to stay while their parents are given support. This kind of innovation is important
at all times, a police cell is not the appropriate place for a child or young person in crisis, but during lockdown when other routes of escape are closed this becomes even more important. As one policy lead said: ‘There is a requirement for safe spaces for families in circumstances when the situation begins to escalate beyond parental control. The risk of criminalisation of children due to these circumstances is increased and should be avoided if possible’.

In an ideal situation there would be help provided before the situation feels unmanageable and dangerous, saving further harm to relationships, to health, to future prospects and wellbeing – and indeed to the public purse. As there is greater recognition of the issue of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse, and as we see moves for a more strategic and joined up response, we must hope that such provision becomes part of the accepted norm in a suite of responses, designed to meet the very specific needs of individual families.

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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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Co-producing a new #C/APV programme in Kent

Having spent the last few months thinking about the issues of delivering work to families online, interviewing practitioners (here and here) and a parent, and reading commentary and reports, I have formed in my head a series of questions, the responses to which seem fundamental to safe and respectful delivery of this particular type of work:

  1. Power. Who is defining the problem, the need, and the appropriate response? What demands are made in terms of compliance and availability? How are solutions negotiated and achieved?
  2. Technology. Access to devices, to broadband, to knowledge and skills.
  3. Space / Time. The possibility of being able to think clearly and speak safely. The possibility of making use of suggestions made within current family life. The possibility of escape.
  4. Monitoring of risk and safety. Awareness of coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact on the ability to monitor this remotely.
  5. Knowledge and skill sets. Including confidence in the issues and in technology, curiosity, creativity.

All of the work I have looked at so far has been designed originally for face-to-face delivery, and then adapted for online work. In contrast, The Kent Adolescent to Parent Violence programme for families with children aged 10-18 experiencing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence (C/APV), currently being developed and piloted in Kent, has been written almost entirely with online delivery in mind. It was interesting then to see how these questions had been considered and answered. Elaine Simcock, Practice Development Officer within the CYP Directorate talked me through it. Continue reading

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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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Taking #CPV services online, Part 3

Welcome to 2021 as we in Britain face the prospect this week of further restrictions, even as the COVID vaccine becomes available! This time last year many of us would have been very sceptical about delivering services online, or even working from home, yet here we are – struggling with some aspects admittedly, but wondering whether some things work better in fact, and vowing to keep them on in future; and so I bring you the third part in a series looking at issues around taking services for families experiencing CPVA online. The last few months have seen the publication of numerous reports into life and service effectiveness under the pandemic, and I am particularly conscious of recent research highlighting the problem of parent participation in work with children’s services around child protection. While different circumstances pertain to work with families experiencing violence from their own children, this has also highlighted issues of power in the relationship with those who use our services, which we do well to remember and attend to in all our plans and delivery.

Back in July and August I spoke with a team delivering the Who’s in Charge? Programme online, and with a parent, and remained keen to examine the impact of the changes for those working directly with young people causing harm in the home. This was reinforced for me by the recent HMIP report, highlighting the need for changes in the delivery of support to families experiencing child and adolescent to parent violence, so it was good to be able to speak to a practitioner using the Respect Young People’s Programme (RYPP) for IDAS in Yorkshire. Continue reading

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What a year!

I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to help families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse through an extraordinarily difficult time. Whether professionally, or as a good friend or family member, that time and support may have been the thing that kept them going. It has been amazing to see the way that work has been adapted to enable things to keep going. New research has both added to the knowledge we have and confirmed some of the things we suspected. Additional media attention means that more of the public are aware that this is an issue, hopefully changing attitudes along the way. And conversations have started at a more strategic level, which we hope will bear fruit in the next months.

For those parents that read this, we are in awe of the work you do day to day!

So, wishing everyone that reads this the strength and stamina to make and enjoy a peaceful time over the next week. We are very much a team in this work. We all hold a piece of the puzzle. We all need each other. We wait for hope and better news in 2021.

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“Sharper focus and more detailed planning” needed for parents experiencing CPV

The need to work remotely during the Covid19 pandemic – and particularly during lockdown – has been challenging for practitioners and families alike. Some have managed to embrace new ways of working, even questioning the assumptions of old methods; others have struggled whether because of the vagaries of technology, skills, specific needs or the particular group of people being supported. Research into ways of working through the pandemic has already revealed much that is good and much that needs improvement, and so I was interested to read the HMIP report into the Covid19 Inspection of Youth Offending Services: A thematic review of the work of youth offending services during the COVID-19 pandemic Nov 2020 Continue reading

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Ready for change?

I’ve been thinking more about my last blog (“What works?”), and whether other things are needed too for successful, supportive and healing work with families where there is child to parent violence and abuse. This was prompted in part by a recent Partnership Projects blog post from Peter Jakob and Jill Lubienski, looking at the importance of motivation to change.

Before everyone rushes in, can I say that I acknowledge that many families are highly motivated and have been banging on doors asking for help for significant lengths of time, and that the blockage is most definitely not at their end! Nevertheless, it is important also to recognise that CPVA impacts many different families and for many different reasons, and in some cases, families may be expected to engage in a piece of work not of their choosing. By which I don’t mean classic parenting classes. A couple of examples: one family may have been referred to a programme as part of a wider piece of work, or through the courts; or they may come to a service voluntarily but very clearly identify the problem as rooted in the child or young person, expecting them to make all the changes. If we identify the issue of child to parent violence and abuse as a relationship issue, then we seek to bring about change also within the relationship, and not simply for one individual.

As always, once I start thinking about something it pops up everywhere in conversations and reading, so I was interested to hear that this was something that other practitioners were tackling at the moment. Continue reading

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