Archive for December, 2011

December 24, 2011

Domestic Violence- Widening the Definition to include control

The Home Office recently announced a(nother) consultation – this one on the definition of domestic violence. They are proposing two changes:
1. That it be extended to include young people aged 16 and 17
2. That it include control in addition to other forms of abuse.

Well, just to show what a bad judge I am of what will make news, I thought the media focus would be on the reduction in the age range. WRONG. The whole focus was on the ‘control’ point which was quickly translated into ’emotional’ abuse. I had four chances to clarify this on the radio and TV but for those of you who missed it…here is another attempt.

Control matters in my opinion because it is linked to risk – risk of homicide and serious harm. Some of the most tragic deaths have occurred where there has been no physical violence, no calls to the police, but extreme levels of control. And in these cases the control will frequently involve threats – of loss of children, of murder or some other extreme event. To reiterate what I was told by a colleague in the early days of CAADA, “we are not talking about bad relationships- but about people living in fear.”. In a recent article in the Mail Online Erin Pizzey said that domestic abuse could be defined as people living in fear of their lives. She obviously knows about 100 times more about this than I do, but I would suggest that living in fear is the distinguishing feature of an abusive relationship.

Control is also crucial to recognise in the Family Courts. Research shows the impact of an abusive relationship on a child’s brain (see earlier post) and it plays a particularly important element in contact, residency and divorce arrangements.

Of course control is just one risk factor-but one which is frequently missed. I hope that if this change is adopted it will lead to wider recognition not just by professionals but also by friends, family, colleagues of one of the most pernicious forms of domestic abuse – those people who might see early the danger that someone is in and give them the encouragement to get help.

December 18, 2011

Wired – How abuse changes a child’s brain

Thanks to Andrea Thorley Baines from Blackpool for sending me this article from about the impact of abuse on a child’s brain.  This builds on research by others such as Felicity de Zulueta (‘From Pain to Violence’) and is crucial for all of us to take into account when working with families affected by abuse.  Of course, there are other factors which will influence the outcomes for a child – but equally this cannot be ignored.

How Abuse Changes a Child’s Brain

The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat, psychologists say.

They’re primed to perceive threat and anticipate pain, adaptations that may be helpful in abusive environments but produce long-term problems with stress and anxiety.

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December 12, 2011

Community Budgeting – interesting thoughts from the CEO of Lincolnshire CC

Watch this video if you are interested in Community Budgeting. Tony McArdle, CEO of Lincolnshire CC reflects on their early experience with community budgeting to address the needs of the so-called ‘problem, or complex’ families.  The approach is not so surprising, but the performance management, funding and governance issues that they are facing are identical to those that we face with MARAC.  If you don’t have time to watch 17 minutes, then the last 5 minutes cover these points.

Community Budgeting, CEO Lincolnshire CC

December 6, 2011

16 Days – Great effort from Sussex Police

Those of us who have worked at CAADA for a long time, know that at least once a year we decide that we MUST make a video explaining what a MARAC is.  Well Sussex Police have been busy and their coordinator has beaten us to it!  So click below if you don’t know what a MARAC is – and if anyone has other helpful bits of film which help explain all our work, please let me know.


16 Days – Sarah Wratten – YouTube.

December 1, 2011

A Glimpse of Good News on Legal Aid

The Guardian, Thu 1 Dec 2011 19.23 GMT

Kenneth Clarke’s plans to slice £350m out of the annual legal aid budget appear to be losing momentum after the justice secretary unexpectedly announced a six-month delay to the programme.
The decision to postpone reforms was blamed on the need reschedule legal contracts although it also comes as the reforms encounter fierce opposition in the Lords and strong opposition from senior judges and social welfare organisations.

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December 1, 2011

Child protection volunteers help children and save money study finds

Congratulations to CSV for the early outcomes of their work with families with children on the child protection register.  See below for an article from Community Care which highlights their human and financial impact.

Child protection volunteers help children and save money study finds

A project using volunteers in child protection cases has seen risk levels for children decrease in more than three-quarters of cases new research has shown.

The research by Anglia Ruskin University on the use of child protection volunteers in Southend since March 2010 found that in 87% of cases the levels of risk had decreased as indicated by child assessment framework (CAF) levels.

Of the 64 families involved in the project, including 37 on child protection plans, 11 had been removed from child protection plans altogether while seven families reported improved school attendance.

Even after taking account of the costs of running the scheme, researchers found the scheme had resulted in savings to the council of £143,644.

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