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.
There has been some concern expressed that the collection of data, and the findings themselves, are not robust and lack the necessary validity and reliability of academic research. To which the answer is that this was never intended as such, but rather as an opportunity for parents to speak and to highlight issues which might perhaps warrant further future investigation. Al is now looking further at the responses received, to draw out themes that warrant greater attention, with a view to encouraging greater research. There will be further papers published, but in the meantime I leave you with this.
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.
On Sunday 28th August, Hannah Meadows posted on her website “But they look so innocent”: Our CPV experience – an account of living with traumatised primary aged children, and the family’s attempts to access help. The post was picked up by many people over the next couple of days, with significant twitter comments, and then also featured as a Mumsnet Blog of the Day. Hannah’s is by no means the only blog to raise the issue of child to parent violence in recent weeks. As schools returned, other parents spoke out about the stresses faced by their young people and the impact this has on mood, regulation and behaviour; and a quick tweet asking for contributions brought many other families and issues to my attention. Discussion ranged from the difficulties in being believed that there is a problem, professional understanding of the issues, lack of resources and the impact of budget cuts, the problem with “quick fixes” and being encouraged towards courses that are too brief, to what happens when misguided help makes things worse. Some of these issues are all too familiar, but others are important considerations which, perhaps, have not been sufficiently addressed in the past.
One of the people who replied to my comments was Scott Casson-Rennie, adoptive parent to three sons and Regional Manager in the Development Team (England) for Adoption UK. Scott, who tweets as @GayAdoption Dad, kindly agreed to contribute his thoughts and experience for this post. Continue reading