Campaigning in this field, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “Is it increasing?” whether from journalists, interested members of the public, friends, professionals or families themselves. I admit to finding this a struggle to answer. Without a proper baseline, how can we ever tell? Are you asking for solid evidence or an anecdotal and impressionistic response? The logical, social scientist bit of me screams in pain as I offer the answer “possibly, probably”. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Eddie Gallagher
I am often asked how I come across the news, articles and publications that I tweet and blog about, in relation to child to parent violence (CPV). My original rationale for this site was along the lines of “I do it so you don’t have to”, but of course things are never that straight forward, and the truth is much more like “we do this together”. But here goes: Continue reading
This is a post I have had in mind for a while, and which has been changing shape faster than I can write. As a result, this is going to be part 1, and I will continue the discussion over the next weeks and months. It really develops two themes and questions: what are we actually talking about when we present training or speak about child to parent violence (CPV); and where are the edges of the definition – what’s included, who’s included, and what and who’s not? It is something we need to address. I am often asked for examples to illustrate a discussion or seminar. It is lazy to simply assume that people understand the concept just because we have become familiar with it. “The outside world find it hard to imagine. As a mother you don’t broadcast it to the outside world because its not something you’re particularly proud of.” (Rosie Noble) But as more and more people start to speak out and to use the phrase “child to parent violence” it inevitably stretches a bit at the edges.
Many years ago now – by CPV standards – Eddie Gallagher gave a handy list of the types of family situation that might be affected (in his experience) by child to parent violence. Since then the list has grown, and it inevitably includes examples that make us a bit squeamish in including them under an official definition: severely disabled children for instance, or those acting in self defence. I have sometimes pondered how parents themselves feel about including themselves in a CPV definition. Indeed, I have asked parents of children with ASD whether they feel it is appropriate to their situation. Is that how they experience the situation? Do they feel they need to protect their child by rejecting the definition? Are the types of help currently available completely inappropriate to their situation and so it does not seem to include them? I meet parents of children with a learning disability who describe persistent and escalating levels of violence and abuse, that in many ways matches the experience of families with adopted children, or families who have experienced domestic violence, or with mental ill health. And of course in each situation there may be layer upon layer to consider. There is rarely one clear cause or trigger, and for each family it will look and feel slightly different.
Is it taboo to admit your child with disabilities hits or bites you? On Woman’s Hour, on February 21st, Jane Garvey introduced a segment about caring for a child with disabilities. You can hear the programme here, and the discussion lasts from the start to 25 minutes in. There are interviews with Nikita, parent of a five year old child, Nayan, with microcephaly, who shows tremendous resilience in the face of regular tantrums and lashing out which comes from frustration; with Rosie Noble, Family Support Manager at Contact a Family, who offers reassurance that things can get better; and with Yvonne Newbold, mother of Toby, who has written extensively about caring for a child with disability. Yvonne has since blogged about the experience of appearing on the programme, and about her decision to speak out. I highly recommend her blog both for the honesty of the encounter, and for information about Yvonne’s wider campaigning to improve support for families experiencing long term, significant levels of violence from their learning disabled children. I’m not going to repeat the details here. If you are interested in knowing more about Yvonne’s experience then please do check out her website. She has organised a groundbreaking conference for the coming weekend, following her Woman’s Hour appearance, and I hope to post more information about her campaigning in the coming weeks.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Nikita’s situation would be included by many people within a CPV definition. That is not to diminish the level of violence she and her husband face – and sadly may continue to experience, but to question the level of control or intent involved in the hitting and lashing out. But how will we feel as Nayan becomes older, bigger and stronger? What about Yvonne and Toby – how is their situation different? Is it different? The issue of intent is one I will return to in later posts, as it seems to be a central part of the conversation, and yet raises more questions than it answers.
If that’s not enough questions, I want to conclude by drawing some thoughts together and throwing a final one out there for discussion.
When we discuss child to parent violence we are not talking about the odd push or shove, about stroppy teenagers, or about an argument we once had that got out of hand. The phrase is used to describe a pattern of persistent and often escalating violence and abuse over perhaps years, from a child or young person towards their parent or carer. The routes to CPV are many and varied, and frequently overlapping. Each family situation is unique, and yet there are many commonalities, not least in the actual day to day experience and damage – physical and emotional that is done. Nikita describes the pain and hope of living with a disabled child. Yvonne has years of experience and has taken a decision to break the silence, to encourage others to speak out, and to campaign for better support. These are just two examples of what CPV might look and feel like.
So my question(s): Does that help your understanding or does it complicate it? And if you have a disabled child yourself, how do you feel about being included within the definition of child to parent violence? As always, please do join in the conversation!
May 3rd 2017: I’m adding on a bit here rather than starting a new post, because I think it furthers these particular thoughts.
Yvonne Newbold has continued to add to her own website over the last weeks, and this includes a page about dealing with violent and challenging behaviour from children and young people with neuro-disabilities. I think it is significant that Yvonne chooses to use this phrase – VCB rather than CPV – in this situation.
Who’s in Charge? is a nine week programme developed specifically to support parents who are experiencing violence and abuse from their children. Originally designed in Australia by Eddie Gallagher, Who’s in Charge? has more recently become the go-to programme in parts of south-east England – a testament to the recognition and success of a training team based at Awareness Matters in Suffolk. Just this month, the Who’s in Charge? programme has been awarded the CANparent quality mark: a recognition of the effectiveness, professionalism and standards of governance displayed and evidenced.
Cathy Press and Carole Williams have offered the Facilitators training now for several years and have worked with professionals across domestic violence agencies, youth offending and children services; as well as the independent sector. In this short video, a number of practitioners talk about their experience of child to parent violence, and the impact this programme has had on the families they work with on a day to day basis.
If you would like to know more about the programme, or about the facilitator training courses available, see the Awareness Matters website where you will find further information and contact details.
Not a very snappy headline I’ll grant you but the alternative was too cheesey – “Keeping gender on the agenda”. Yeah, I know…..
While there are a small number of studies that have found little difference between the violence and abuse from young women and young men towards their parents, the general accumulation of research seems to point otherwise, and it is likely that this discrepancy can be accounted for by the type of survey, the type of data examined, the particular expression of violence or abuse, or the ages of the young people involved. Eddie Gallagher has a chapter on gender in his commentary on the literature regarding child to parent violence, and he confirms the experience of those involved in clinical practice or the legal world, as well as recent research in Oxford and Brighton, that boys are three or four more times as likely to be involved in CPV than are girls. This difference is most markedly shown as the age increases, and the level of violence worsens. This is not to deny that many girls and young women are extremely violent and abusive towards their parents; and Gallagher also suggests that their levels of violence may be increasing. Continue reading
The Australian media have offered considerable coverage of child to parent violence and abuse over the last year, as conferences have taken place, reports have been published, or police figures made public. But the most recent piece, about this in the Sydney Morning Herald, was more disappointing in depicting an inevitable new world order of weak, ineffective parents and controlling, over-entitled children. Testimony from parents was matched by commentary from psychologists and educators, all stressing the changing environment and culture that young people grow up in today, and predicting mental health problems to come as this generation matures to adulthood. Continue reading
With many papers and now two books to her name, Amanda Holt is a leading voice in the field of adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA), not just in the UK, but also around the world. APVA is a small but developing field, where networking provides a key method of information exchange, and it was through discussions with other academics and practitioners that the idea for this book was born. Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: Approaches and contexts for intervention explores both the different theoretical bases and approaches to the work, and the very different contexts in which it takes place. Continue reading