Tag Archives: troubled families

Parent abuse: Do the math. The cost of not intervening

“Mental disorders cost the economy more than £100bn a year” …. “2 million more adults and 100,000 more children will need treatment in 2030” … “a reduction in the number of people across the UK developing mental disorders appears to us to be the only way that mental health services will adequately cope with demand in 20-30 years’ time”. Soundbites from a recent piece in the Guardian, reflecting anxiety within the NHS as a whole that the money just won’t stretch far enough; and similar discussions abound whether with regard to physical health, education, criminal justice, social care …. The list goes on. So how to fund something new, such as services for families experiencing child to parent violence, at this time of budgetary constraints and cuts, might seem to be a question too far. Continue reading

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Weekend round-up

Over the last weeks a number of things have caught my attention and I thought it worth while bringing them all together here before they get lost.

A new journal article from Mounir H Fawzi, Mohab M Fawzi & Amira A Fouad, Parent abuse by adolescents with first-episode psychosis in Egypt, Journal of Adolescent Health, published online 16.08.13 (abstract here). The purpose of the research was to determine rates of parent abuse among this group of adolescents presenting at outpatients, and to identify the association between parent abuse and a number of socioeconomic and clinical factors. I found the article interesting for a number of reasons. It does not seem so long a time since people were asking whether parent abuse was a phenomenon confined to western societies with particularly lax forms of parenting, yet time and time again there are news items and articles emerging from societies right across the world. The findings show clear bias towards sons as abusers and mothers as victims, (apologies for the terminology which I know is uncomfortable for some people). Once again parent abuse is described as a taboo, a hidden problem, and there is a call for greater awareness raising, education and support. Continue reading


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Trouble in the Troubled Families Department

I have a sort of Love-Hate relationship with the Trouble Families Programme and so I like to keep abreast of developments and opinion as it unfolds, for instance the announcement last week on September 10th that 14,000 families have now been ‘turned around’.

I am torn between the belief that intensive family support can be extremely productive – and that this is in fact what brought many folk into social work in the first place – and the concern about the turn such a model of intervention has taken on the current government’s watch. Intensive Family Support Programmes have a proud heritage and it is from them, significantly, that we have learnt much about children’s violence to parents in the UK. Continue reading

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A Police Response to Parent Abuse

When I undertook my Masters study in 2004 – 6, one of the people I interviewed was a police officer, who described his sense of frustration at the difficulties in responding to incidents where parent abuse could be clearly identified. Pretty much everything I had read online or in the literature had suggested that the police hadn’t a clue, sided with the young person, maybe arrested the parent and certainly had nothing useful to offer; so it was interesting to sit down with someone and hear the other side. He identified a system of adhoc responses depending on the awareness of the individual officer, and then nothing concrete to offer, nowhere to refer on to as there was no agency taking responsibility for meeting the needs of families where children’s violence to parents was an issue. Continue reading

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You can’t afford to dabble

Can anyone respond to a referral of parent abuse? Since we are encouraging practitioners to recognise when child to parent violence is a feature of family function or dysfunction, what are people supposed to do next? How should they intervene? Do you need to follow an approved programme, or can you use practice that works in other settings?

A discussion with Sandra Ashley, Director of Hertfordshire Practical Parenting Programme, touched on these questions as we looked at the range of support programmes on offer and the training offered to facilitators. (You can learn more about some of these programmes on the Resources pages of this blog) Some of these programmes have commonalities. Others feel quite different in emphasis and style and in philosophical background. Meanwhile, bespoke parent abuse projects increasingly find that they are taking referrals from mainstream agencies that feel their own staff lack the necessary expertise (or time perhaps?), while initiatives such as that falling within the Troubled Families remit may be using practitioners from a range of backgrounds to tackle this among many other issues. Continue reading


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Pointing the finger at “Troubled Families”

The media buzzes again today with discussion about help for Cameron’s 120,000 “troubled families”. (BBC article here)

The term itself has fallen into disrepute, not least since revelations regarding the integrity of the statistical base for the government’s claims. (Tim Harford’s excellent radio article here) However, we are in danger of focusing so much on the blatant disregard of facts that we forget that there are indeed many families in dire need of help, whether the 120,000 experiencing multiple disadvantage, or the families (quantity unknown) about whom Cameron was actually talking. There will, presumably, be some overlap, but the suggestion that being poor, unwell or disabled, and in substandard housing, automatically qualifies you as a “neighbour from hell” is deeply offensive. In a post today, Declan Gaffney suggests that the situation could be easily redeemed, and our attention refocused presumably, if government spokespeople would only admit to the flaws. Continue reading


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32 essays on parenting

The Family and Parenting Institute published a series of 32 essays this month, considering the pressures on modern parenting, what can be learnt from the reaction to the August riots in Britain, and the implications of these for parenting policy. The essays cover a range of topics through single parenting, working lives, welfare, grand-parenting, but were of particular interest to me for the discussion around parenting support: how did it come about, what does it say about the role of the state in parenting, is this what parents want? “Authors …  consider the way in which parenting has become professionalised and the extent to which a deficit view of ‘problem parents’ is now in the ascendance.” Continue reading

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