Child to Parent Violence Challenging Perspectives and New Approaches to Family Violence. BASPCAN Congress, Belfast, 15 th -18 th April 2012.

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1 Child to Parent Violence Challenging Perspectives and New Approaches to Family Violence. BASPCAN Congress, Belfast, 15 th -18 th April Declan Coogan, Lecturer, MA in Social Work Programme, School of Political Science & Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway. Social Worker & Family Therapist (FTAI).

2 Tuning In.Aims Raise awareness of nature and extent of child to parent violence and reversal of power in families. Broaden our understanding of family violence. Consider policy and practice guidance that may be available in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Consider the policy and practice dilemmas related to this form of family violence. Outline a brief, practical and research based programme for working with parents living in fear of their child.

3 Introductory exercise.

4 What do we mean by child to parent violence?

5 Child to parent violence =? No single or simple definition of child to parent violence describes a wide variety of abusive & controlling behaviours. Harmful act(s) intended to gain power and control over parents. Use of physical or psychological violence to gain control over parents. Children & young people aged between years of age. (See Tew & Nixon 2010, Cottrell 2001, Cottrell & Monk 2004).

6 Reversal of power dynamics Difference between childhood testing of boundaries and child to parent violence? The issue of power makes the difference. Child to parent violence is an abuse of power through which the child or adolescent attempts to coerce, control or dominate others in the family. See Tew and Nixon 2010 & Coogan 2011

7 Context for thinking, talking and practice The experience of violence in the family

8 The impact of violence. Violence is so terrifying, destructive and shameful to everyone involved (including the therapist) that there is a universal temptation to dissociate oneself from it completely (Goldner 1999: 331).

9 Child to parent violence and the experiences of mothers.

10 Experiences of mothers (Hunter et al 2010). He was like a bloke at 13, shouting at me, made me go to bits, and you know, I mean, I couldn t deal with it. I was having a lot of trouble with my children and like my son was hitting me and mental abuse Just things like that, what he s done to me prior, and pulling a knife out, I asked him last week, what would you have done? I said, what would you have done with that knife, would you have used that and he says aye I would have.

11 Child to Parent Violence? What do we know? Why do we need to think and talk about it?

12 Child to parent violence the most underresearched form of family violence, despite high rate of occurrence and increasing prevalence (Walsh & Krienert 2007).

13 What do we know about child to parent violence? Prevalence- Figures vary but some argue 18% of two parent and 29% of one parent families (Walsh & Krienert 2009) Pagani et al (2009) - among 15/16 year olds, 12.3% of males and 9.5% of females were physically aggressive towards their fathers in the previous six months. Mothers parenting alone following exit from domestic violence. Two parent families often well educated and middle class with over entitled children (Gallagher 2004, 2008).

14 What do we know about child-toparent violence? Has received little attention in policy and practice development (Omer et al 2008; Edenborough et al 2008). Tackling Violence in the Home (DHSSPS 2005) & National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual & Gender-based Violence (Cosc 2010). Both policies build on the experiences of practitioners, researchers and policy-makers in responding to the problems of domestic abuse & violence over several decades Both policies use domestic violence/ abuse recognising complexities of abuse & violence. Both policies recognise that women are more frequently the targets of extreme levels of violence and men can also experience domestic violence & abuse.

15 What do we know about child to parent violence? The focus in policy is on adult-initiated violence in the family Children seen as direct or secondary victims of domestic violence and abuse. No awareness or understanding of children using violence & control at home.

16 What do we know about child to parent violence? Parents reluctant to talk about adolescent violence until it reaches unbearable levels (Sheehan, M 1997) Many parents who are assaulted by their children deny or minimise it or blame themselves for their children s behaviour. Parents fear blame from professionals who can either minimise or excuse the child s violent behaviour (Omer 2004; Gallagher 2004; Edenborough et al 2008).

17 Why talk about child-to-parent violence? For practice- it can be difficult to know what best to do and where to focus our intervention. It can be difficult to see that a child can be both a victim and a perpetrator of abuse. Clinical labels (e.g. ADHD; attachment disorder ) can distract us from the realities of family experiences. For research/ policy development there is a need to develop ways of thinking about and exploring child to parent violence that learns from experience in domestic violence but stretches beyond limitations.

18 Review/ preview Child to parent violence - what is it? Experiences of violence. Prevalence? Lack of attention in policy and practice. Parents reluctance to talk about it. Practice, policy & research need. Perspectives on child to parent violence. Practice dilemmas. NVR A response. Implementing the NVR programme The steps Focus on one step.

19 Practice dilemmas the search for an answer to client and team need

20 Practice Dilemma David David - details discussed during workshop.

21 Other practice dilemmas Sean and Sinead details discussed during workshop.

22 The Non Violent Resistance Programme (Omer 2004, Weinblatt & Omer 2008, Omer 2011) One response to the needs of families & practitioners.

23 Non Violent Resistance (NVR) Programme. Short-term evidence based programme lasting 5-10 weeks with sessions of individual session and telephone support. Adapted in Ireland with positive results. Neither parents/carers nor the child are pathologised due to aggressive and violent behaviour. Parents/carers are the focus of both psycho-educational and therapeutic support.

24 Non Violent Resistance (NVR) Programme Parents/carers reflect on their own contribution to aggressive and violent behaviour while developing nonescalation skills. NVR compliments and can work along with already existing knowledge and skills. The problem of violence in the family is openly talked about, denial and minimisation are no longer issues and parents sense of isolation reduced.

25 What is the Non Violent Resistance Programme? Key Concepts.

26 Non Violent Resistance Programme (Omer 2004). Non violent resistance aims at giving the child a clear message I am your parent. I am no longer going to put up with this situation and I will do all in my power to change it except by attacking you verbally or physically. Parents/carers take a firm stance against any violence, risk taking or anti-social behaviours. Parents/carers commit to avoiding all physical or verbal attacks.

27 NVR a Different Form of Fighting. NVR is a form of fighting a different kind of fight: (a) parents/carers commit to a non violent and non humiliating stance. (b) parents/carers assume responsibility for their own part in escalation. (c) goal of the fight is to resist and prevent violence.

28 NVR a Different Form of Fighting. (d) NVR aims to rebuild parents/carers confidence without becoming punitive and authoritarian. (e) aim is to fight the child s violence while reinforcing and drawing out positive elements in the relationship. (f) The child is invited to come up with solutions to the problems of aggressive and violent behaviours.

29 The Key Elements of NVR Commitment to nonviolence & resistance. Breaking the escalation cycle ending behaviour patterns & pressing the pause button. Increasing parental presence. Stepping out of secrecy the supporters and mediators. Statement of intent - non violent resistance. The sit in Service strike/ refusing orders. Reconciliation gestures. Invite child s suggestions. Draw out positive aspects of child s personality.

30 Implementing the NVR programme in practice.

31 NVR Programme Steps to Implementation. 1. Parental/ carer commitment to non violence. 2. Development of non-escalation strategies. 3. Recruitment of Support Network. 4. Statement of Intent & invitation for suggestions.

32 NVR Programme Steps to Implementation. 5. Active involvement of Support Network. 6. Increase of parental/ carer presence. 7. Implementation of additional strategies, e.g. protest sit-in, telephone calls, service strike, refusal of orders. Throughout this process, parents/ carers commit to involvement in up to ten sessions with practitioner.

33 Breaking out of Isolation - Building the Support Network. Applying one element of NVR in practice.

34 Breaking out of isolation. Basic rule of abuse secrecy perpetuates abuse is as true for child to parent violence and sibling violence as is it for physical and sexual abuse within families and institutions. Talking to and enlisting the support of relatives, friends, community workers is an essential step in the move towards non violence and ending child to parent violence.

35 The Support Network what can the supporters do? Who are they? Anyone the parent considers is or could be a support for them and their child. Includes at least one the child is fond of. What do they do? Source of confirmation and encouragement to parents/carers, Inform the child of their support for NVR and their ongoing care for the child.

36 What can the supporters do? Put the violent behaviour of the child under the pressure of public opinion, Provide practical help, Step in where needed, Act as mediator between the parent and the child if needed.

37 How are supporters involved? Parents select the supporters and describe to them the violence they have experienced and their intent to use the NVR programme. Parents ask each of the supporters to contact the child who has been violent by phone, or in person, telling the child they know the details of the violence and its effect on the child and the family and re-assuring them of their love and support in stopping violence.

38 Supporters reinforce the message of support and resistance to violence. Supporters & mediators reinforce the message to the child your extreme behaviour is not acceptable. It can be helpful to give these supporters & mediators a leaflet with key principles of NVR and information on the role of supporters.

39 Supporters reinforce the message of support and resistance to violence. If there are relatives or friends who live far away to whom the child is attached, phone calls, s, letters about their support for NVR from them to the child can have a powerful impact. These steps will show the child that he/she is not alone. This can be enough to significantly reduce the violence.

40 Review/ preview & choice Perspectives on child to parent violence. Practice dilemmas. NVR Programme One response. Implementing the NVR programme The steps Focus on one step. Short discussion initial reactions/ comments. Discuss in small groups. Preliminary evidence implementing NVR in one team in Dublin.

41 Preliminary Evidence in Ireland CAMHS in Dublin. Adapted programme, with consent. 10 families, 20 months.

42 NVR the adapted model Brief intervention period ten sessions considered but average seven sessions. Limited telephone support required. Intervention focused on parent/s, including both parents where parents are separated but have on-going involvement in the child s life.

43 NVR the adapted model Sessions scheduled at weekly/ fortnightly basis, dependent on need. Integrated solution focused, systemic and cognitive behavioural therapy approach. Sessions available for child if necessary/ requested an alternative member of the team. Delegated tasks for other services that are involved as/ where necessary Health Service Executive, National Education Welfare Board, CAMHS, Youth Advocacy Project. This is an essential factor when working with families where there are complex problems and a variety of concerns.

44 Impact of the adopted model? Preliminary evidence parent reports, review of cases, some school reports. A research based and practice based model that responds to the needs of families and services for a brief, effective and non-blaming intervention model that supports parents, and protects children.

45 Overview Child to parent violence lack of attention in research, policy and practice. Practice, research and policy dilemmas related to problem of this form of family violence. The Non Violent Resistance Programme one response to the problem of child to parent violence.

46 The future? Respond to needs for greater awareness of complexities of family violence in policy, practice and research. to build on what we already know about family violence and develop practice and policy frameworks. to develop inter-agency policies to support practice in responding to child to parent violence. to develop training on effective programmes for practitioners to support practice. to research such training programmes and to investigate both the impact of this training and the experiences of families.

47 Comments/ Questions. Turn to the person next to you: What strikes you about child to parent violence and the NVR approach? What questions remain about the NVR programme and child to parent violence? Please complete the feedback sheet. Thank you.

48 References Coogan, D (2011) Child to Parent Violence Challenging Perspectives on Family Violence. Child Care in Practice Vol.17, No. 4: Coogan, D & Sharry, J (2004) in Sharry, J (2004) Counselling Children Adolescents and Families. London. Sage. Cottrell, B & Monk, P (2004) Adolescent to Parent Abuse: A Qualitative Overview of Common Themes. Journal of Family Issues. Vol. 25 No. 8: Edenborough, M, Jackson, D, Mannix, J & Wilkes, L M (2008) Living in the red zone: the experience of child to mother violence. Child and Family Social Work. Vol: 13:

49 References Gallagher, E 2004a Parents Victimised by their Children, Australia New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy (ANZJFT), Vol. 25, No1: Gallagher, E 2004b Youths who Victimise their parents. ANZJFT, Vol. 25, Vol. 2: Goldner, V (1999) Morality and Multiplicity: Perspectives on the Treatment of Violence in Intimate Life. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Vol. 25 No.3: Holt, A. (2009) Parent Abuse: Some Reflections on the Adequacy of a Youth Justice Response. Internet Journal of Criminology. v_09.pdf Hunter, C, Nixon, J & Parr, S (2010) Mother Abuse: A Matter of Youth Justice, Child Welfare or Domestic Violence? Journal of Law and Society. Vol. 37, No.2:

50 References Omer, H (2004) Nonviolent Resistance A New Approach to Violent and Self-Destructive Children. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press. Omer, H (2011) The New Authority Family, School and Community. Cambridge, UK, New York. Cambridge University Press. Omer, H, Schorr-Sapir, I & Weinblatt, U 2008 Non-violent Resistance and Violence Against Siblings. Journal of Family Therapy, Vol. 30: Sheehan, M 1997 Adolescent Violence- Strategies, outcomes and dilemmas in working with young people and their families. ANZJFT, Vol. 18, No.2: Tew, J., & Nixon, J. (2010). Parent abuse: Opening up a discussion of a complex instance of family power relations. Social Policy and Society, 9(4),

51 References Walsh, J A & Krienert, J L (2007) Child-Parent Violence: An Empirical Analysis of Offender, Victim and Event Characteristics in a National Sample of Reported Incidents. Journal of Family Violence. Vol. 22: Walsh, J A & Krienert, J. L (2009) A Decade of Child-Initiated Family Violence: Comparative Analysis of Child-Parent Violence and Parricide Examining Offender, Victim and Event Characteristics in a National Sample of Reported Incidents Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Vol. 24 No.9: Weinblatt, U & Omer, H (2008) Nonviolent resistance: a treatment for parents of children with acute behaviour problems. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Vol. 34. No. 1,

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