Marking International Restorative Justice Week in November, this YouTube video was posted by IARS. In it, Kate Iwi, of Respect UK, talks about an innovative restorative technique being pioneered as part of the Respect Young People’s Programme. Restorative work is a fundamental aspect of work with families experiencing children’s violence to parents.
I have just spent an exciting and inspiring morning with representatives of the Youth Offending Service across the East Midlands at their first Regional Practitioners Peer Learning Event in Nottingham. Around 50 – 60 had gathered to learn more about responses to adolescent violence to parents, and – importantly – to formulate action plans for their own areas before they left.
I was privileged to open the session, setting the scene with an overview of parent abuse, before Anne-Marie Harris from the Youth Justice Board spoke about upcoming developments at a national level. The feasibility study on the introduction of special domestic violence courts within the youth court system is not due to report until December, but Anne-Marie indicated that a number of practical and ethical difficulties have been identified around this direction of travel. Nevertheless, opportunities remain for creative thinking around service delivery, including programmes similar to the Step Up model. Continue reading
Some lively discussion on the BBC last week around the use of “informal” community responses to violent crime, including Restorative Justice practice, focused on adult crime. As well as a rather dismissive tone in the description of these techniques as “informal”, one of the main concerns in discussion was with regard to the inappropriateness of restorative justice in the case of domestic violence, where vulnerable women in particular may be pressured into accepting “unreal” apologies from perpetrators. But of course the story may be very different with children and adolescents using violence in the home, where restorative techniques have been found to be extremely positive, enabling children to acknowledge their abusive behaviour, restoring family relationships and avoiding the criminalisation that might otherwise follow involvement in the youth justice system. Continue reading
In my last post I referred to the emergence of a number of themes through the day as we met last week in Nottingham. I want to return to one of these now, namely the issues around conceptualising child to parent violence as domestic violence.
This is something that has been covered by a number of people in the past (e.g. Holt or Hunter, Nixon and Parr), but it keeps re-emerging for a number of reasons. Firstly, much of the work being developed in Britain at the moment is taking place within agencies also dealing with adult intimate partner violence, forcing the issue as adjustments are made to approaches or expectations. Secondly, the change in definition of domestic violence within Britain to include perpetrators aged 16 upwards, has been hailed by some as a positive move, allowing the open discussion of the topic in a new way, and the recognition within policy of the reality of parent abuse. Continue reading
Restorative responses that are high both on accountability and support are widely evidenced not only for their culturally transferability but their ability to achieve high engagement, ownership and accountability, and empower individuals to change. Step Up is a model that could also be adapted for use in schools, preventative services and a range of family service providers.
(Lynette Robinson, p32)
A series of three articles about the Step Up programme, developed within the youth justice system in the US as a dedicated response to adolescent violence to parents: Continue reading