Back in 2015 The Adoption Social launched a discussion on CPV (child to parent violence) via its ‘Sore Points’ feature.
There was a widely read Weekly Adoption Shout Out to include blogs about the issue, a Twitter chat, guest posts and a resources list including books, films, organisations and a government guidelines for professionals.
Parents talked eloquently in these guest post:
A Twitter chat allowed adopters to talk about the issues peer to peer:
Social Worker Helen Bonnick, a great supporter of adoptive families, shared her knowledge:
CPV – A social Workers Awakening
Adoptive parents trying to successfully and therapeutically deal with children’s anger has been highlighted again recently. It’s something that affects our community and particularly the children involved who are at risk of adoption disruption and potential criminalisation if support is not given as an early intervention.
Al Coates, an adopter and social worker and Dr Wendy Thorley from Sunderland University, produced a recent report about children’s violence in families including adoptive, foster, birth and kinship care. The report feeds back from over 200 families. This excellent report reached the attention of The Department for Education this week. As the authors said, hopefully that attention makes it ‘a thing’. Thank goodness. Now more than ever both adopters and importantly adoptees need to share their experiences and knowledge far and wide. The opportunity must be seized:
Alongside this report The Open Nest Charity who specialise in raising awareness of violence in adoptive homes has worked with an advisor from national training company Securicare in hearing from 86 adopters. The focus of the report was to highlight the need for specialist training in extreme circumstances. Only 6% of respondents reported that they were not doing untrained “DIY” physical intervention. 3% of these were parents who felt morally opposed to any physical intervention in any situation.
The Open Nest founder likened a personal experience to that of living with allowable domestic abuse in this 2014 blog:
After writing the above post The Open Nest has worked closely with Securicare and families in crisis on finding safe solutions to managing physical violence. Thankfully there are now LA’s and agencies asking for specific training for adopters. Some LA’s are however refusing to sanction training even when adopters (legal parents) wish to buy in privately.
It’s certainly a ‘sore point’ and this perhaps explains why, despite a decent knowledge base, solutions are hard to find. The title CPV can be off putting. Violence is a very emotive word. So is victim. To an unknowing observer there may seem to be a black and white perpetrator and victim. A poor parent and a naughty child. A rare but unfortunate occurrence. For adopters it is far more complex. Firstly anger that is without regulation in an adopted child illicit’s not only discomfort, fear and blocked care in a parent but also empathy. Parents are aware the anger could be justified, either in exactly mirroring taught behaviour, and/or a reaction to the trauma of upheaval, loss and separation. Sometimes it may be due to undiagnosed learning difficulty or foetal alcohol syndrome.
The moral dilemma is in the acting or not acting. If a child seriously hurts a sibling, stranger, classmate or parent the consequences on permanency can be disastrous. If a parent has to physically manage violence in a child when untrained then safeguarding issues automatically arise. Becoming in any way involved in physical control in such situations also risks damage to already fragile emotional connections and attachments. More than anything this type of intervention has to have therapeutic reasons and responses at its heart.
In other childcare situations it is considered average practice to safely intervene, even if physically, to keep a child or others around a violent child or young person safe from serious harm. This happens at school, in children’s homes and in foster care. The difference between the professional child carer and an adoptive parent is in the training. 94% of adoptive parents in The Open Nest survey are doing untrained physical interventions to protect their child, other children and themselves. More than a few parents in these situations find themselves answering to child protection conferences despite having been entirely transparent to professionals, sometimes over many months and even years about unsafe violence in the home.
Perhaps it’s time safeguarding concerns given by adoptive parents were as quick to be acted upon as they are when raised by teachers and social workers?
Child protection conferences and discussions should be established as soon as any parent reports feeling unsafe at home. This should then bring about a plan for what to do in a crisis when emotional regulation is not possible for a child and when a parents attempts at deescalation are not enough. These situations may be rare but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. They matter a lot. Given the wrong, or no support, a child may end up labelled as violent and not more truthfully described as terrified, grieving, or traumatised.
If a child is removed from an adoptive home due to violence and safeguarding issues it is unlikely those issues are going to be solved, they may be exacerbated and it may be that in a sad irony a child may end up in a care situation where it is physically restrained by caring strangers.
Research shows that some LA’s are comfortable to trust adopters to be trained in safe intervention by registered organisations and others that shy away from adopters being trusted with such training.
The Adoption Social founder @puffindiaries is once again going to host a #TASchat Twitter conversation to see how much awareness has moved on in the time since the last chat and how, having raised the issues and created knowledge base,we can help to find positive solutions as a community whilst CPV has the attention of government advisors on adoption.
Details will be announced soon.