An increase in child on parent violence?
Recent data appears to suggest that there has been a major increase in child on parent violence from 2015 to 2018, particularly within parents who have adopted. According to the data collected from the BBC from 19 Police forces, there has been just over 7000 reported cases in 2015, compared to over 14,000 in 2018. Adoption UK have also recently reported that 65% of adoptive parents reported that they experienced violence from their children in 2018. In 2017 another survey from the BBC reported that over a quarter of adoptive families were living in crisis. These figures are alarming but not surprising to us at the Grandparents Legal Centre.
West Midlands Police saw an increase in child on parent violence which is nearly treble what it was in 2015. The data shows that 1,084 cases were reported in 2015 compared to 3,067 in 2018. It isn’t entirely clear why the number of reported cases to the Police have increased. According to the recent BBC article, “the National Police Chiefs Council said the rise was due to a change in the recording practices.”
At the Grandparents Legal Centre we specialise in assisting adoptive parents. One of the main areas is unfortunately when the adoption has “disrupted” or is very close to “disrupting” and the parents are seeking advice and assistance. This could either be in relation to additional support they require from professionals or when they have come to the extremely difficult decision that they can no longer care for their child. In these circumstances we are finding that this is often due to child on parent violence, although not the only reason.
On initially speaking to parents who are the subject of child on parent violence, they are often reluctant to report it for fear of how this could impact on the child in future. Many parents feel that if they were to call 999 their child would receive a criminal record, which would be detrimental to them in later life. Unfortunately, in some situations the parents have no alternative but to call the Police. This is often to safeguard themselves as well as their child, in additional to any other children who may be living within the family home.
Another factor which can lead to parents being reluctant to report the violence, is the criticism they receive not only from professionals but their own family and friends. The majority of our clients inform us that they are often led to believe that this is their fault and that they are the problem. This is simply not the case. This can lead to the parents feeling isolated, which only makes the situation worse. What strikes us the most is that parents will often not report the violence due to the feeling of shame.
What we often see in adoption disruptions is that the children require support that they are unable to access. This is not through lack of trying from their parents. The children can be experiencing mental health difficulties or overcoming issues they have witnessed prior to being placed with their adoptive parents. It has previously been reported that nine out of ten adopted children had witnessed domestic violence and a third had been sexually assaulted prior to their adoption. It is often seen that children will go on to “act out” what they have previously witnessed in any placements.
It can be easy for some to consider that any difficulties the children may have been subjected to previously, suddenly disappear upon adoption. Unfortunately this is not the case. Children can also often find themselves being labelled as “a problem”. In actual fact what is required to overcome any previous trauma is ensuring the appropriate support is available to the families. Without it the situation only deteriorates further, which puts the whole family in a very difficult position.
At the Grandparents Legal Centre we are not here to judge any of our clients. We are here to assist parents, whether that be by contacting the Local Authority seeking support or making the very difficult request to accommodate a child into care. This is a very stressful and difficult time for the family, both emotionally and physically. If you are experiencing child on parent violence and require advice on the options available to you please contact our Nigel Priestley and Sarah Brown on 0843 289 7130 to discuss further. We understand the pressures parents are going through and we are here to reassure you every step of the way.
Sarah Brown – Solicitor
Child Care & Adoption