Tag Archives: Wendy Thorley

Responding to CCVAB / CPV: developing a dataset

The absence of consistent, reliable, and comparable incidence data in the field of child / adolescent to parent violence and abuse is not simply frustrating; it presents a significant barrier to raising awareness and the development of a comprehensive response system. It is not only that we have no solid figures to offer, but that there is no widely adopted method of counting in the first place, compounded by the understandable reluctance of families to seek help and become one of those statistics. A new piece of research from CEL&T and Northumbria University in conjunction with Northumbria Police, released this week, sought to develop a dataset which could be adopted easily, and would provide vital information about those young people coming to the attention of the police in order to better inform the development of services. This particular piece of work is one of the strands coming out of the 2016 DHR into the death of ‘Sarah’. The research, and subsequent report, uses the term CCVAB: Childhood challenging violent or aggressive behaviour. The findings were presented to the police on Friday, 24th April by Al Coates, Dr Wendy Thorley, and Jeannine Hughes; and released to the public on Monday 27th.

It is shocking reading serious case reviews and domestic homicide reviews to see how often the same issues come up again and again. So while the background to the recent drive to improve services in Northumbria has been tragic, the determination to pick up on the recommendations of this DHR (also here), and to work together to develop protocols, resources and training is to be commended.  Sarah was a 45 year old woman, killed in 2015 by her 16 year old son Michael, despite years of asking for help, when her difficulties were interpreted as a deficit of parenting, and the escalating risk she faced at the hands of her increasingly unwell and violent son was neither fully recognised nor attended to.

CEL&T have previously published reports into CCVAB, considering in particular different drivers – whether the violence and aggression is related to trauma for instance, or to a diagnosed mental health condition – and acknowledging the impact on families in this situation. This latest report, Policing Childhood Challenging Violent or Aggressive Behaviour: Responding to vulnerable families (Executive Summary here), builds on this framework in starting to analyse the data collected. Over two years, the research team devised a set of questions, developed a strategy for collecting the relevant data, and then considered the information they had amassed in a nine month period. In all, a total of 224 children and young people were recorded within the dataset, involved in 515 separate incidents. The dataset included the number of incidents responded to (daily, weekly and monthly), the age and gender of the child displaying CCVAB, known previous incidents for the same child, and relationship of the child to the parent / carer. There was seen to be a high representation of young people with SEND, at 28%. Predominantly biological children, the male / female split reflects that commonly found in similar research (335 male / 180 female); with an age spread in this particular data of 9 – 19 years, peaking between 13 and 16. The possible contribution of substance use, mental health, domestic violence and poverty are all considered, and a number of hypotheses developed around ACES, school attendance and stress.

It is acknowledged that calling the police is hugely problematic for many families, fearing the longterm consequences for their child; but finding other services unresponsive when they seek help, this becomes the agency of last resort. As a result, not only are these figures likely to under-represent the true prevalence of CCVAB, and in particular the rate amongst younger children, but they may also be skewed to the families who have become exhausted by their family experience, or where the abuse is at the most dangerous end of the spectrum. It might then be surprising that nearly a third of incidents were not recorded as criminal behaviour, and, of those that were, fewer than half resulted in arrest. Rather, this can be interpreted as a recognition of the importance of diverting these young people away from the criminal justice system, and finding a response elsewhere. There is great concern expressed that the current Home Office Guidance in this field is not sufficiently robust or comprehensive, and it is expected that the findings of this study will feed in to the review presently being undertaken of this document. A series of other recommendations to the Home Office, the police, social work and education call for greater training and awareness, an agreed definition, named officers, and a roll out of properly evidenced work with families. Furthermore, the current lockdown situation is recognised as offering an opportunity for the collection of valuable comparative data in understanding the key features and drivers of CCVAB / CPV.

I would urge you to read the reports, and to be encouraged that this issue is finally attracting the attention it needs if families are to be properly supported to find a way to live safely and healthily together.

 

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Supporting adoptive families experiencing #CPV: making things better, not worse

This is a post that has been a long time brewing. My thanks to a friend for her contribution in helping me work out the many issues involved. Any errors or lack of clarity in the way this is laid out are down to me.

The experience of violence and abuse from children within adoptive families has been well researched and documented. (See for instance Selwyn et al and the work of Al Coates and Wendy Thorley here and here.) Greater recognition and the provision of the Adoption Support Fund within England have made it slightly easier for parents to access help when needed within the last years, but it remains the case that many families feel let down by services who have misunderstood their requests for help, or their degree of pain, or even the mechanisms by which such violence might have come about. (If you are in any doubt about this, the website of Special Guardians and Adopters Together is a record of the anguish and anger of a group of parents who feel betrayed in this respect by the system.) I can speak personally about the individuals who have contacted me or spoken to me at events. Continue reading

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Reports from the 2018 CPVA Survey

You may have been following the discussion opened up by Dr Wendy Thorley and Al Coates, following their survey of adoptive and foster families at the end of 2016 (here,  here, here and here), and then the enlarged questionnaire to all families experiencing violence and aggression from their children of 2018. If so, you will already be aware of the way in which the responses brought to the fore a number of difficulties with the way in which CPVA is understood and conceptualised; particularly around intent, and children who have either a recognised mental health diagnosis, learning difficulty, or have experienced trauma in early childhood. Two documents are now available, comprising a full and detailed analysis of the recent survey responses, and an extended summary of the main discussion points and recommendations. The first is available through Amazon, the second as a free download from Academia. Continue reading

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Child on Parent Violence – DfE Expert Advisory Group

With permission, I am reblogging this post by Al Coates, from his site: Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad. (Wednesday March 29th 2017). Al is a member of the DfE Advisory Group on fostering and adoption, and has been instrumental in bringing the issue of child to parent violence to the attention of the Department. 

It was the quarterly Department for Education’s Expert Advisory Group on Adoption Support. Today was the usual updates on this and that and a few larger issues addressed such as the working out of the role of the Virtual School Heads. We focused  to how the Adoption Support Fund was progressing, of course there are challenges but to date nearly 18,000 children had been helped and that the fair access limit remained above the average cost of the vast majority of applications. No help if you’re over with match funding and a difficult issue for some but 80 families have been match funded, which is more than I’d envisaged.
We had a discussion around the incoming legislation of the Virtual School Heads with NAVSH represented in the room they gave a good account of how they envisaged it playing on the ground. It is was a good discussion and there’s room for encouragement and optimism. Of course there are uncertainties as we move into new responsibilities and grey areas but without doubt we are heading in the right direction, it would have been nice to have heard Gareth Marr’s thoughts as we discussed the role.
The final item on the agenda was Child on Parent Violence, I’d asked for it to be there.

Drawing tougher all the findings from the Survey that I’d undertaken and the subsequent findings that Dr Wendy Thorley had made sense of in the first and second CPV reports that laid it all out. It’s too much go through verbatim and a text version of a 45 minute presentation is too much to bear so here we go in eight words.

Taboo (fear of response, isolation, criminalisation, ignorance, stigma, victim blaming)
Paradigms (different professionals view it very differently
Definitions (the trouble with them)
Causes (complicated)
Prevalence (lots, 30% ish)
Impacts (massive)
Responses (shocking)
Actions

It was well received, they’re a polite bunch, but I do think the collective minds and organisations in the room took the message to heart.

Child on Parent Violence is a ‘thing.*

This is a thing that we need to act on, a complicated, ugly, painful and prickly thing that needs to be grasped. As one member noted, not a can of worms but a bucket of worms.

Actions is the interesting bit, so what do we do next?

That’s the question, what do we do with this ‘thing’, first we call it a thing and we start to raise awareness and we start to consider if this as big as we suspect and believe that we make it a part of Social Workers Continual Professional Development.
We consider how we prepare adopters to let them know it’s a ‘thing’ and it’s ok to say it’s happening.
We liaise with safeguarding and tell them about this ‘thing’.
We develop out knowledge of interventions and what works in a real world situation.
The DfE are going to talk to the Chief Social Worker about their views and knowledge.

Today felt like a start line not and maybe a consideration of what may be the first steps in removing the taboo and developing the culture that makes it ok to ask for help and ok to say you’re not ok.

I apologise that this is all a bit vague, it’s late and having thought hard about this for a long long time and lived to varying degrees with it and in it. I feel very sleepy all of a sudden.

On another note I’m thinking of getting the presentation, with other stuff,  out to a wider audience and there’s even talk of putting on a free event for whoever’s interested and recording it, podcasting and you tubing it. I’m pondering that thought so if that’s of interest let me know.

All in all a good day.

*Speaking to a group of Social Workers last week  a senior practitioner said “We knew that this happened but we didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’.”

 

If you have found this of interest then please do check out other posts on Al’s site. 

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