by Al Coates
At Community Care Live in September I asked a room full of over 200 social workers if they knew of – or worked with – children who were sometimes violent to their families, carers or parents. Without pause the overwhelming majority of them raised their hands.
It was a rhetorical question with limited risk of getting a silent ‘no’ as there has been a resounding ‘yes’ from professionals that we’ve asked that question to over the last year.
I, along with colleagues, have been asking this question since the release of the reports authored by Dr Wendy Thorley of Sunderland University based on the 2016 child on parent violence survey.
From there we’ve spoken to hundreds of social workers and families to raise awareness and share what insights and knowledge we’d taken from the survey.
Beyond anecdotes, the reality is that child on parent violence is an issue that remains in the shadows of work with children and families.
The exact number of parents, carers, special guardians, kinship carers, adopters and foster carers who live with children who can be violence or aggressive remains hidden.
Estimated figures vary across demographics and circumstances ranging from a conservative 3% in the general population to as high as 27% in terms of children that have been adopted. Stark figures either way, 3% of the 11,000,0000 children in the UK gives you a third of a million children that present with violent or aggressive behaviour at some point.
Our 2016 survey raised serious issues in relation to the support and responses available for these children. They find themselves caught in a maze of limited professional awareness and understanding, finite resources, professionals unsure of appropriate responses and ineffective interventions. Parents sometimes passed between police, social care, and mental health professionals, all of whom uncertain of causes or solutions.
More to learn
Speaking to many parents and carers of all descriptions and consistency more questions became apparent. There’s more to learn in regard to the exact nature and impact of the violence and aggression.
What is an acceptable definition? What support helps and what doesn’t? What helps professionals supporting children and families?
With all this in mind we’ve developed the 2018 Child on Parent Violence and Aggression Survey in collaboration with advocates from different areas and with different expertise to make the survey more accessible to a wider range of family units.
If this applies to you please consider completing the survey, if you know someone who it may apply to please share it with them.