I am very aware when writing and collating material for training purposes, that while we have significant contributions from parents affected by abuse and violence from their children, there is much less attention given to the voices of the young people concerned.
We are not without this completely. Interventions such as Break4Change specifically video young people as part of the programme, using their voices as part of a conversation with parents. Some of this material has been available in training and research reports. Television shows, such as My Violent Child, have at times included direct interviewing of the young person concerned. Books such as Anger is my Friend mediate the teenage voice though years of practice experience. Research reports may include testimony from young people, though often it will be as reported or interpreted by their parent. But Barbara Cottrell is unusual in devoting a whole chapter to the actual teenage voice in her book: When Teens Abuse Their Parents.
I was interested then to read today the recent findings of some research looking at the way professionals gate-keep young people taking part in research. Blogging on the NSPCC website, Dr. Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Dr. Elly Hanson and Pat Branigan discuss the challenges presented by professional gatekeeping – and how to overcome them, to ensure even vulnerable young people are heard.
Certainly all the issues identified in this paper pertain to work with children using violence themselves, but is it true also to say that in the case of child to parent violence there are other issues that make it more difficult than normal? Naturally we need to be aware of the possibility of escalation or of creating further difficulties for the family when we have finished; and parents may be justifiably cautious about allowing researchers to meet with young people because of specific diagnoses that would make interaction with strangers problematic. I do believe though that in many cases there are ways of getting round these difficulties with creativity and sensitivity – as well as good ethics and professionalism. If we are to completely understand the issues affecting children; and to find the most appropriate ways of working to bring about change, we cannot neglect such an important part of the family system.
I’ve read a number of useful papers and other documents recently, which I have tweeted and also added to the Reading List page, but I thought it worth bringing them all together here as well.
“Am I Really a Bad Parent?” from Nancy Brule and Jessica Eckstein, looks at a communication management model of stigma and explores how parents’ responses to abuse can be understood within this framework. It has some cautionary reminders about the search for causes of adolescent to parent abuse, and also some comments on the impact on siblings. There is not so much written about this aspect of family interaction and so this is a welcome inclusion.
Caring for those who care for violent and aggressive children, is a paper from Adapt Scotland. There are some statistics relevant to the Scottish situation, but the remainder of the paper gives a very concise and helpful understanding of aggressive behaviour in children. Adapt Scotland offer trauma and attachment based mentoring and therapeutic work for families and professionals.
Supporting Adolescents on the Edge of Care. The role of short term stays in residential care, is an evidence scope from Dixon, Lee, Ellison and Hicks for the NSPCC and Action for Children. It asks what is meant by the term “edge of care”, considers different models of residential care, both in Britain and elsewhere; and looks at the usefulness or otherwise for young people (and families) of such an experience. With much debate around the use of Care for children who are violent towards their parents and other family members, I found this an interesting paper to read.
I will continue to publicise other reports and papers as I come across them, and always welcome suggestions and recommendations!
An interesting juxtaposition of topics on Woman’s Hour today. Amongst the early items, Jenni Murray interviewed Lisa Harker, Head of Strategy at the NSPCC, and Radio 1 presenter, Gemma Cairney, about the shocking frequency of teenage relationship abuse. Gemma’s documentary “Bruising Silence” aired on Radio 1 tonight, and the NSPCC published a report, “Standing on my own two feet” in 2011, described as the first ever study of abusive relationships among teenagers (downloadable from the NSPCC website). Among the findings, from the University of Bristol, were that 25% of teenage girls and 18% of boys had experienced physical violence in a relationship. In a lot of cases, there was a strong association with witnessing violence in the home, or with peers or family members – 20% of girls had seen domestic violence. Continue reading