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Working with families experiencing adolescent to parent violence Dr Caroline Miles University of Manchester

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1 Working with families experiencing adolescent to parent violence Dr Caroline Miles University of Manchester Caroline.miles@manchester.ac.uk

2 Background research ESRC funded project 2010-2013 (with Rachel Condry, University of Oxford) Focus on deliberate physical violence directed at mothers and/or fathers by their adolescent (13-19 years) children. Interviews with parents, young people, police officers, youth justice workers, expert practitioners. Fieldwork with police and youth justice services and analysis of case files. Statistical analysis of incidents reported to the police.

3 Working with families experiencing APV 17 interviews with 20 expert practitioners Experiences of encountering APV Understanding/conceptualising APV ▫APV within in a domestic violence (DV) framework Challenges in responding to APV Responding responsively to APV

4 Encountering APV Practitioners working across a range of support services routinely encounter APV ▫[Y]ou ask the right question to a parent, they'll tell you. But you need to ask those right questions. And asking those right questions, it became really apparent that there was a lot of violence between child to parent. (Expert 14) ▫I have found that workers on the front line, anecdotally, are reporting a massive increase in people coming to them talking about child to parent violence. (Expert 10)

5 APV and gender Son-mother abuse? ▫[W]ith regards to kind of violence against parents, again well I'd say at least half of the children that we see [are girls]. And probably more to be honest, depending on what you view as abusive and not abusive. (Expert 7) ▫We see more boys with single mums, but not exclusively. We've got some very abusive girls at the moment that we're dealing with. (Expert 13) ▫I think when we think of it, we tend to think that it'd be boys against mums. We're not finding that. Some of our cases are girls against dads. (Expert 14)

6 Pathways to APV Learning disabilities Psychological/mental health problems Alcohol/drug misuse Sexual abuse Systemic family problems Cultural factors Peer group Previous experience of domestic violence and abuse

7 Previous experience of DV A typical family would be a family who have experienced domestic violence over many years. Maybe at this point, the perpetrator has left the family, the child is reaching adolescence, they're going through all the changes associated with being a teenager at that point. There is also a power vacuum that's missing. The child usually has had some sort of traumatic experience, around witnessing or directly experiencing violence and are full of rage and sort of anger towards everything and anything, perpetuated by hormonal, physiological and psychological changes going on during that time; and somehow, you know, this becomes expressed towards the mum. Now mums have in a, I mean this a very kind of broad generalisation, you know, but the mum has had years of experience of domestic violence and that's, you know, affected her self-esteem, affected her confidence as a mother … So you often get this kind of typical dialogue between sort of child saying to their parent, "You're too weak," and you know, being abusive towards mum. (Expert 2)

8 Previous experience of DV (cont.) Perceived lack of parental power and control Resentment/anger/lack of faith in parent Learning abusive behaviour ▫And actually, these young people who are committing the acts of violence, they stepped into a vacancy. So they didn't create the violence in the family, in a lot of the cases. The majority of cases that we see the violence is a sort of an organising principle. They step into a vacancy of the person who delivers the violence. And sometimes that's better than being the person who receives the violence, you know. (Expert 12)

9 Understanding APV in a DV framework Similarities in behaviours ▫[I]t was very hard to make the distinction usefully between violence to partners and violence particularly against mothers, but violence to parents. (Expert 10) ▫Well you're looking at the same as a perpetrator of domestic abuse, apart from it's from a child. Cos they've, you know, it's manipulation, verbal, physical intimidation, psychological … the behaviour's exactly the same. (Expert 5)

10 Understanding APV in a DV framework (cont.) Similarities in impact ▫[S]he was really scared of what he was able to do physically to her. She, she was really frightened by that and that’s why she gave him all the money, and ran around after him and did all sorts of things cos she, she was scared about the violence. (Expert 16) ▫I wouldn’t identify the ones I’ve spoken to as being kind of parenting, teenage and parenting issues. I would look at the, the woman’s really unhappy and, and scared cos that, that is the thing with Domestic Abuse, it’s about that kind of fear and about changing your behaviour as well, so women will change their behaviour … (Expert 16)

11 Responding to APV as a form of DV Challenges/problems/crucial distinctions ▫Parent-child relationship ▫Reluctance to report child to authorities ▫Parental responsibility for child ▫Blurred line between ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ ▫Criminalising young people

12 What constitutes a responsive response? Criminalisation of children? ▫[The] vast majority of [young people] have had quite difficult and complex problems in their lives, on an on-going basis for a number of them. And at which point do you, are you able to challenge them around responsibility and accountability for their own behaviour? And that's a real tension in this work really, is that you're working with them, a lot more than you are in adult work, you're working with them both as victims and as abusers, in a sense. And, and finding that balance can be tricky. (Expert 4) ▫[P]articularly the young people that we work with, for them to be engaged with the criminal justice system, to be criminalised and treated as offenders, is almost compounding what they've already been through. So rather than label them as bad, what we do is try to help them to understand how they're feeling, their emotions and how to change their behaviour, and that abusive relationships versus healthy relationships. So it's a more supportive, rather than a judgemental, I suppose on the face of it. (Expert 6)

13 What constitutes a responsive response? (cont.) Parent-blaming and assumption of parental control? ▫It's like “What are you doing to stop that behaviour? Or why has it escalated? How have you allowed this to happen?” Because it challenges everything that we believe about how family dynamics should operate. (Expert 11) ▫A lot of the parents we work have been blamed, blamed that they're the bad parents, that their child is acting up because they're, because they're rubbish parents. Which simply isn't the case at all. So I think there needs to be a much larger awareness of what parental abuse is about. (Expert 7)

14 What constitutes a responsive response? (cont.) Responsibilisation of parents? ▫I know for a fact that half of parents I work with, they're past the point of you know, some of these parenting courses. Some of them have been on them three or four times … when you're looking at violence, you're past that. (Expert 5) ▫What's really interesting for me is in the cases that we do tend to see is often the mums in the families are completely burnt out, you know. And so the strategy and what people are trying to teach them to be consistent, to sort of be doing the same thing all the time, to apply the same strategies – they can't do it. They just can't, you know, they get too tired, they just, you know, over time it just degrades to a position where actually the intervention is no longer any use, because they just can't maintain it, you know. (Expert 12)

15 What constitutes a responsive response? Working with young people Working with parents Working with families together Systematic, tailored approach Non-judgemental environment

16 A responsive criminal justice response? Recognises adolescent to parent violence as a potentially serious form of domestic violence Recognises the complex nature of APV and families’ needs Enables parents to receive appropriate emergency assistance and safety planning Offers prosecution routes where appropriate but also offers robust diversionary responses Leads to long-term tailored support for parents and their children

17 Examples of support services Rosalie Ryrie Foundation (Wakefield) PAARS (Enfield) Break 4 Change (Brighton and Hove) SAAIF (Colchester) Wish (Bristol) YUVA (London) Respect’s Young People’s Programme Step-up model in US – court diversion to specialist programme – restorative, family-focused, no criminalisation ▫Programme adopted/adapted by several YOTs in UK

18 Recognition for families of the problem of APV Working with both parents and young people A non-judgemental environment – allowing young people and parents to learn from their mistakes Meeting others with similar problems Listening and being listened to Helping families to find new solutions - teaching new techniques and strategies What they have in common/what works


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