Who’s in Charge?
Working with :
Child to Parent Violence & Abuse
the most hidden, misunderstood and stigmatized form of family violence
(RCPV Executive Summary, 2015)
It is estimated that 3 to 5% of adolescents are seriously abusive to parents, while others suggest even higher incidence. Gallagher 2008
Met Police figures show reports of child-to-parent violent offences grew from 920 in 2012 to 1801 in 2016 – a 95% increase. Offences of GBH (grievous bodily harm) have increased from 20 in 2012 to 125 in 2016.
(Met Police, 2017)
It was hi-lighted that practitioners participating in the study were lacking in knowledge and were under-skilled as they had not received specialized training on child to parent violence & abuse.
(Wilcox & Pooley, 2015)
Research suggests that support agencies may be unfamiliar with the issue or are not set up to meet the very specific needs of this group of parents and young people.
(Wilcox & Pooley, 2015)
Awareness amongst professionals remains limited with many families describing disbelief and scepticism when they seek support and advice. Behaviour is dismissed as ‘normal’ and just a phase that children are going through. Parents become isolated and the impact on them, their health, work and relationships was described as significant.
(Al Coates, Adoptive Parent & Social Worker)
In 2016, only 40 agencies were identified in a national mapping project – largely through domestic abuse support agencies.
Who’s in Charge? Programme & Training
About the trainers
Carole & Cathy have spent the past 11 years leading and developing the Who’s in Charge? programme and were fore-runners in developing the first UK conference addressing Child to Parent Violence in 2013 in Suffolk.
In 2005 a survey revealed that 7% of 30,000 calls from parents to Family Lives helpline were about physical aggression from children to their parents.
(Family Lives, 2010)
There are two batteries in a remote control: if one is changed the whole thing still doesn’t work.
Find a programme in your area
The map indicates where there are trained WIC? facilitators across the UK. However, please be aware that not all facilitator or agency details are available because they are restricted to working with their own clients or service users and are unable to take external referrals. Please contact: [email protected] to find out how to access online programmes.
Programme Outline & Aims
- Session 1 Introductions, questionnaires and genograms
- Session 2 Cause and influences of abusive behaviour
- Session 3 What is abuse?
- Session 4 What can I control in my child’s life?
- Session 5 Consequences
- Session 6 Anger and breaking the myths of anger
- Session 7 Assertiveness
- Session 8 Self-care, future goal setting and evaluation
- Session 9 Two month follow up on goal achievement, evaluation and further goals.
The programme aims to reduce parents feelings of isolation; challenge parents feelings of guilt; loosen deterministic thinking about causes (e.g. “he can’t help it because he has ADHD or saw his father being violent”); create a belief in the possibility of change; clarify boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour; examine strategies for creating meaningful and practical consequences for unacceptable behaviour; reinforce progress and provide emotional support while they attempt to become more assertive parents; explore anger, both child and parents’; encourage assertiveness; encourage self-care.
Group Parent Programme Detail
Who’s in Charge? is a 9 week child to parent violence (CPV) programme aimed at parents whose children are being abusive or violent toward them or who appear out of parental control. The structure of the programme consists of 8 two and a half hour sessions with a two-month follow up.
Three Part Structure of the WIC? Group Programme
The first three or four sessions aim to change parental attitude, and in particular reduce blame, guilt and shame. A variety of exercises are used to deconstruct some of the unhelpful myths that parents have absorbed about their child’s behaviour. WE aim to help them to understand that children’s bad behaviour is multi-causal, and we explore the nature of abuse, styles of parenting, entitlement and power and social changes that make CPV more likely.
The second half of the programme explores the use of consequences to change unwanted behaviour. This has similarities to the content of mainstream parenting programmes, but there are important differences. Most parenting advice assumes that children are co-operative. However, most parents who attend Who’s in Charge? typically have children who have stopped co-operating, who often appear to care about very little, who may deliberately sabotage parents attempts to apply consequences, and who may escalate their violence when parents implement behavioural control strategies.
In the group we explore the difficulty of identifying consequences that the parent can implement, is willing to control and the child will care about (at least a little). We do not see the consequences in terms of behaviour modification, but in terms of empowerment of the parent; increasing the child’s respect for the parent, enabling the parent to be more assertive and altering the balance of positives and negatives that the young person experiences from their violent and controlling behaviour.
The third part of the group supports parents to make changes within the home while working on a few advanced topics; anger; assertiveness; self-care. The order of these topics is important. Until parents have made some attitude changes and become more empowered they are not usually ready to work on these topics. The anger topic is about their anger, as well as dealing with the young person’s anger. However, parents may not be ready to admit to, or work on their own inappropriate behaviour early in the group process.
So, the structure aims to first support and empower, second to encourage practical changes (usually in terms of rules and consequences) and third to reinforce these changes and cover some advanced topics. There is a steady reduction in content during the course of the group – the ideal being that the group becomes more positive and helpful and thus discussion increases and facilitator directed exercises reduce
Please email us in the first instance for further information.