The recent publication of the paper, Under the Radar: The Widespread use of ‘Out of Court Resolutions’ in Policing Domestic Violence and Abuse in the United Kingdom, by Westmarland, Johnson and McGlynn, once again draws attention to the differences between adult perpetrated DVA and child to parent violence.
While much comment is made about the similarities – in how it feels to parents particularly, the apparent gendered nature, clear links to previous experience of domestic violence within the family, and to the adaptation of the Duluth wheel in many programmes addressing CPV; the active promotion of the use of elements of restorative practice is where the two clearly diverge. (Or so we thought – the report suggests that RP elements are more widespread in adult DV work than expected.)
I have posted about comparisons with IPV and about the use of restorative practice in CPV in the past (here, here and here for instance), and of course the book by Routt and Anderson, Adolescent Violence in the Home: Restorative Approaches to Building Healthy, Respectful Family Relationships, considers the way in which an important element of work with young people is to maintain them within the family if possible. The Step Up project in Seattle was designed specifically as a diversionary measure, and so it is interesting to compare the way we understand and respond to this issue at different points in the lifecycle.
Work with young people is founded on an understanding of their vulnerability, the often past existence of trauma, the plasticity of their thinking at this stage in their life, and the supportive elements of being part of a family unit in terms of changing behaviour and healing relationships. Which for me raises interesting questions about when these issues cease to be pertinent – what age is the cut off? We know that many young people can be helped to change their behaviour and to remain within the family unit; but we also know that some will continue to abuse family members and will go on to be abusive to partners. Are we looking at two completely different issues or does one morph into the other, or is there an overlap?
I welcome comments from those engaged in work in the field.
At the end of November 2016, Al Coates, an adoptive parent and social worker, put out on social media a survey asking parents about their experience of child to parent violence. You can read more about it here and here. He received 264 responses over a three week period, largely – unsurprisingly given the main mode of dissemination – from adoptive parents. The collation started straight away and a first paper was put out at the start of the new year. First Impressions is available from the CE< website, part of the University of Sunderland. Dr Wendy Thorley, of the University of Sunderland, is a member of what might broadly be termed the Steering committee for this project, and she has helped to edit the report.
The survey asked questions about a family’s experience of child to parent violence, and about the age at which it started, the impact on the family, and about the help that had been offered – or not. Continue reading
Over the last weeks I have been involved in a number of long conversations with people about the harsh realities of living with a violent child, and their sometimes exhausting journeys to finding help and advice. This is truly one of those things that people struggle to understand unless they have been personally touched – it is such an alien notion and no-one can really understand the violence and rage a child can show until they have witnessed it first hand.
Over the years, research around the world has started to uncover the extent of the problem, to speculate on causes, characteristics, correlations …. but all (as far as I am aware) has come from academics and professionals in the field. Now a parent experiencing violence within their own family is seeking to promote understanding of the issue, initially by surveying parents in a similar position and then using the data gained to commission further research and services. Al is an adoptive parent but wants to open this out to all families experiencing violence and abuse, whatever their situation, and to include grandparents and other carers too. You can read the rationale for the survey here, or go straight to the survey here. This is aimed at families living within England and Wales in the first instance.
There is of course some guidance for professionals already published, specifically the Home Office Information guide on adolescent violence and abuse, which forms part of the VAWG strategy; and amongst the small number of books available there is also discussion of different approaches. Nevertheless, while some professionals are now very much on board and fully supportive of families, there are sadly too many still unaware of the degree of violence experienced, the impact on family life and the harm caused to both parents and child without proper support.
Please do support this new venture by completing the survey yourself if appropriate, or by passing it on to others you know. Thank you.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED
I was privileged last week to have a conversation about child to parent violence (CPV) with Al Coates, adoptive parent, social worker and adoption expert, as part of his series of podcasts on the website Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad. Al has kindly allowed me to reblog the podcast here, but please do go over to his website and check out the other posts and interviews. The full version of his post can be found here. Al gives a thoughtful, informed and sometimes rawly honest account of fostering from both sides of the fence.
CPV is a big issue for many adopters (see the report : Beyond the Adoption Order), and it has been interesting to watch over the last couple of years as parents have gradually felt more at ease in discussing their experiences on line. It is important that these conversations continue in order to support one another, but crucially also so that other people hear the extent of the struggle, fear, anguish and exhaustion; and start to develop proper resources.
What happens when it is no longer safe for a child to remain at home? Sometimes children go to live with another family member, perhaps an absent parent, or a grandparent, aunt or uncle. I have heard of a young man going to live at his girlfriend’s parents’ house. These sorts of arrangements can work well, particularly if the violence and abuse is very specifically directed to only one person. But if it is more general, then the chances are it will re-emerge in the new home and this arrangement will also break down. Some young people may find themselves admitted to hospital where their risky behaviour is considered to be caused by mental ill health. Some may end up in youth custody as the result of a very serious assault. Others, perhaps the majority, will be taken in to the care of the local authority, whether as a voluntary agreement or on a care order, as “beyond parental control”. (Where you end up then seems sadly to be something of a lottery and must be the subject of future posts.) Continue reading
Filed under Discussion, Law
What is it with knives? (I’m sure someone will answer that for us!) So many parents report the use of knives in the abuse they face from their children. I clearly remember a conversation with Julie Selwyn after publication of Beyond the Adoption Order, about the frequency that they had been mentioned in conversations with parents about their adoption journey. And I remember the horror in a friend’s voice as they described their early experience of fostering – which also marked the end of that venture for them. When people talk about being at “the sharp end” of a child’s anger, frustration and pain, this is too often what we are talking about. Continue reading
It’s always good to see new books published in this field, and so I was pleased to take a look at this “self-guided course for parents of angry, aggressive adolescents or teens” from Elaine Morgan and Laurie Reid. Published by Breaking the Cycle Consulting, Breaking the Cycle of Child-to-Parent Violence and Abuse is available direct from the authors or from Amazon.