Tag Archives: CPV

CPV: Fighting for a kinder, person-centred response in the future

For the last few years it seems, in amongst all my other CPV posts, I have thought, discussed, and posted a lot about the experiences of adoptive parents experiencing violence or abuse from their children, but this year feels already like there’s going to be a lot of attention – rightly so – given to those struggling with the behaviour of their children with learning difficulties or disabilities. With the treatment of children and young people in assessment units very much in the news, expect to hear even more! For many, the conflation of this type of behaviour – identified as a response to anxiety and stress in the face of unreasonable (and often very reasonable) expectations – with deliberate, manipulative acts of violence and control from some neuro-typical children does not sit easily. Indeed, Yvonne Newbold has coined the term Violent Challenging Behaviour to make this distinction.

This post, Time to breathe out, from a mum blogging about Life with Aine, starts us off.

It’s the first day of school after the Christmas break.  The anxiety that has been simmering for the last two weeks, for me at least, becomes reality.

When faced with doing something that she doesn’t want to do, Aine can become physically violent.  This is something that she has displayed at various levels over her life.  It started as self-injurious, biting her arm during physio sessions.  We bought bangles and chewy items to prevent the injury but nothing seemed to satisfy her the same as hurting herself.  She would bite the therapist if they weren’t quick enough, but it was mainly herself.  This progressed to head hitting and elbow banging, bending her arm and smashing her elbow hard onto a surface; table, wall, door.  Less often she would bang her head on surfaces and also bend forward into a most envious forward fold yoga pose to bite hard on her knees.

It was easier to dodge when she was little and it was far easier to distract her.  A game made her forget that she was being dressed or being made to take foul-tasting medicine or being made to contort her tight muscles into painful stretches,  As she has grown, she has become more savvy.  “This uniform means school and I don’t want to go there!”  “This spoon means medicine and it tastes like feet!”  And also the realisation that certain behaviours and words push certain buttons in care givers has developed.  If I am failing to respond to a pinch or a scratch, a swift slap around the face gives the eye contact she wants.

For the remainder of the post, and for others by Kate McDonagh, please do visit the website: If you jump in muddy puddles …

Many differences indeed, but also some similarities, which reminds us in fact that every situation, every family and every child is unique, with their own situation, anxieties and response. Above all, we need compassion; and we look this year for a more kind, hopeful and person-centred response to those families in need.There is a long debate to be had about how we understand different aspects of violent or challenging behaviour from children, what we call it too. Its a puzzle we’ve been trying to untangle on this site, and we hope you’ll join in this year as we carry on fighting for awareness, understanding, and a thoughtful and supportive response for families.

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CPV: Standing together

I am breaking my silence.

I am breaking my silence for any person who is a stepparent, and they are living in a dangerous situation at the hands of their stepchildren.

I am breaking my silence because I know what it is like to scourer the internet trying to find someone or some resource to signal that I was not alone.

So begins a post from Dr Sam Kline. You can read the rest of the post here, and there is the promise of a follow up on her site in a week or so. You will recognise many of her comments:

  • The assumption that ‘step-parent abuse’ was abuse BY step-parents
  • The societal messages to girls and women not to make a fuss, to keep the peace, to look after the needs of the men
  • The shame and lack of expectation of help that stops people coming forward

She raises important messages to families in responding to abuse:

  • The importance of parents ‘being on the same page’
  • The importance of going through with plans, however hard to do
  • The importance of support from friends and of being believed

And she also talks about the way that parents keep loving, even when that means loving from a distance.

We have no certainty of how many families – of every hue – experience violence and abuse from their children, and we can probably never know exactly. While parents find it difficult to come forward for help, and for all of us to talk about this, there will continue to be people who believe that they are totally alone in their experience. Thankfully, the last couple of years have seen more people speaking out, more sympathetic coverage, and a more widespread response, but we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, I draw comfort from every post such as that from Kline, not that they have had to go through the abuse, but that they have found the courage to speak out, and by doing so will have helped someone else recognise that they are not alone.

I know what it is like to come across a story on the internet and feel comfort in knowing I was not alone.

We cannot change issues if everyone remains silent.


Kline has since published Part 2 of her blog on violence from step-children. You can read it here.

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CPV: Looking forward with hope

Well, it’s been an interesting year, culminating in a hectic last few weeks!

Thinking about what to write today I flicked back through old reports, including that written by Parentline Plus ten years ago, “You can’t say go and sit on the naughty step because they turn round and say make me”. In some ways it feels as if nothing has changed, the same stories from parents, the same understanding of background risk factors, the same difficulties in accessing help. But what does feel different is the volume of coverage, and the gradually changing tone.

There is a lot of interest in CPV with a growing number of PhD students looking at this around the country. We’ve seen more new research papers this year, including a really helpful overview of research from the last 60 years from Simmons, McEwan, Purcell and Ogloff. There’s been a long awaited book from Eddie Gallagher, giving us the benefit of his life’s work in one volume, so some interesting insights there. In parallel there has been increasing action from the adoption community as they try to untangle the conundrum that is trauma-driven abuse directed towards them by their children; and a growing voice from those experiencing violence and challenging behaviour from children with learning disabilities. Researchers in the domestic violence field, such as Hannah Bows, have started to make connections between elder abuse and child initiated abuse of parents, with a longitudinal approach to understanding this issue; and we have seen a widening of understanding to include abuse to adults in a caring role other than parents. In Australia there was much excitement with the release of money to fund services for families across Victoria.

Funding problems continue to affect services for families in this country, but it is exciting to see that many places have been able to sustain a service, and even develop it further where there is buy-in at a strategic level. We have seen a lot of media interest too, with some refreshingly thoughtful examinations of adolescent to parent abuse from the Guardian and Observer in particular, and further coverage on the BBC. There is increasing recognition that this is more than ‘a parenting issue’, and that it could happen to anyone. Oh, and did I mention my book? I am very excited to have finally completed the manuscript and sent it off to the publisher two weeks ago. Fingers crossed for news after the new year!

So what to look for in the year ahead?

  • More news on my book I hope
  • A long awaited volume from Condry and Miles
  • More published research about abuse affecting other family members
  • More published research from a longitudinal perspective
  • More published research about practitioner experiences of work with CPV
  • More great media coverage!

In the end though, more and more research doesn’t necessarily cut it for parents. What we need to see is research converted into action on the ground, with the development of sustainable, respectful, accessible services that meet the needs of families and help to prevent behaviours becoming entrenched, as well as providing support in times of crisis. This is what we hope for in 2019. This is what I wish for families.

I know that there is already much good work happening to enable families to live together peacefully. As I travel around the country I am encouraged by the people I meet and the conversations I have.Thank you for all you do already! I will continue to work towards this wherever and however I can. I invite you to join me in working for change for families, and in bringing hope for all for the new year.

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Confined Spaces, an interview with Sophie Cero

Do you like your art calming and reflective, or maybe you enjoy the challenge of something complex and abstract? For thousands of years, artists have used their work to comment on the human condition, and to explore ideas of power, truth, and reality. Nevertheless, you might be thinking, “but what can art tell us about child to parent violence?”

What I like about any new way of looking at things is that the questions are slightly different, the insights often trip us up and change the direction of our thoughts, and we can be left with new questions that we hadn’t even thought of before! So I was excited to come across artist, Sophie Cero on twitter and to hear about her work exploring child and adolescent violence towards parents. Sophie kindly agreed to be interviewed for Holes in the Wall. Continue reading


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Learning from a Serious Case Review

Over the weekend, I came across the Serious Case Review (SCR) into the death of a young person referred to as ‘Chris’, published recently by Newham LSCB.  I was drawn to it particularly as a social worker, and someone based in the area to which it refers. It is a profoundly moving document, highlighting real moments of good practice in work to support Chris and his family, while also indicating areas of work where people and agencies fell short in their roles and responsibilities. It is first and foremost an opportunity to learn about the lives of Chris and his family, to identify opportunities for learning from his tragic death, and to make recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar events happening again. Continue reading

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Your call, on speaking to the media about CPV

Back in 2013, I blogged about whether it was helpful to speak to the media, and how we could work within professional ethical guidelines with this. I find myself revisiting this theme now, partly because I am increasingly being contacted by investigative journalists interested in learning more about child to parent violence, and partly because I do believe the general tone and atmosphere around this is changing. With coverage in the mainstream media, and on flagship programmes it is in everyone’s interest to present as full a picture as possible, and to ensure accuracy of coverage whenever we are able to influence direction. Continue reading


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What do we mean by ‘Intent’, in the context of Child to Parent Violence?

The issue of intent, and what exactly is meant by this in understanding child or adolescent to parent violence and abuse, is a complicated one that has generated significant discussion over the last year particularly. It has been suggested (Thorley and Coates) that we are better served by an overarching understanding of young people’s family violence, with a division between those who act aggressively with intent, and those we would struggle to understand doing so. Others disagree, and this has sparked thoughts that perhaps we are misusing the word, and that we should go back to basics in our understanding of how we use this terminology in the wider field of domestic abuse.

I was musing along this line with Kate Iwi, and persuaded her to write something for us! 


In the adult domestic violence (DV) field it’s often noted that even in the heat of the moment when a perpetrator says he ‘lost it’ and ‘saw red’ he is still accountable for his behaviour.  In part this is because they clearly still retained some control, in the sense that they are setting limits to the level of abuse they are prepared to use.  After all, if you are stronger than the other person and/or there are potential weapons around, and you’ve not killed them yet, then you must be setting limits.  It’s also noted that victims of DV learn to tread on eggshells – they avoid doing the things that seem to trigger the violence. The aggressor gets their way. Its often concluded that for adult perpetrators, ‘violence is intentional’. Continue reading

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