Posts tagged ‘Children’

March 1, 2014

Thoughts from Michael Johnson’s work – Practical Implications

We had a terrific keynote speech from Professor Mike Johnson at our National Conference on Wednesday.  He explained his work around typologies of relationship in domestic abuse.  He highlighted three main types (see http://www.caada.org.uk/events/CAADA_conference_2014.htm for more info) – Intimate Partner Terrorism where one partner – usually a man in heterosexual relationships – ‘terrorises’ the other, Situational Couple Violence where there is typically an equal split between male and female victims and perpetrators (although not necessarily in terms of impact) and finally ‘Violent Resistance’, where the partner of an ‘intimate terrorist’ will try and defend themselves in a violent way.  The first category is much smaller in number than the second, but with a much higher percentage of high risk cases because of the persistent existence of coercive control.  The second is by far the largest in terms of number of cases but most of these never come to the attention of public or specialist agencies such as police, IDVAs, refuges etc because the level of severity is typically much lower – although a significant percentage (about a quarter) do involve severe violence albeit without coercion and control.  The last category is very small.

So what are the implications of his research?  Firstly, it gives us a clear way to unlock the prevalence debate around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men.  Both figures are right.  But the bulk of the violence where men are victims fits into the Situational Couple Violence category and we need to treat it in a different way.  In Situational Couple Violence, Mike’s research shows that about one third of cases involve men being violent to women, one third involve women being violent to men and one third are bi-directional.  Most do not involve patterns of violence and none involve coercion.  These are typically arguments and conflict that get out of control and where there is a violent incident.  In many cases this is a one off.  This is borne out by the crime survey for England and Wales which shows that about a third (I quote from memory) of cases are resolved in a month.  This is not the sort of coercion, violence and control that we see in our work.

Secondly, it has clear implications for the family courts in particular in relation to children.  Mike describes the impact of Intimate Partner Terrorism as the ‘poison’ that infects a family and leaves children exposed to constant stress.  You will all be familiar with the literature about the impact of this on the neurological development of small children.  The courts and those arranging contact between children and their parents need to get real clarity around this.

Thirdly, at a time when the police and others are reviewing the use of risk assessment, does this have a message for front line officers?  My sense is no.  There is a level of sophistication in distinguishing between different types of relationship which probably won’t be done most effectively at 3 in the morning. Front line officers need to collect evidence, safeguard the parties involved in an incident and manage the immediate risk that they are faced with.

Does it have implications for the work of specialists in the field?  My sense is yes.  At its most basic, many people in our field still speak about high risk as if it didn’t include coercion and control.  I feel as if there can’t be anyone left who doesn’t understand that coercion is totally linked to risk – as well of course as significant physical violence.  However, apparently there are!  When I listen to people saying: “Half of the homicide reviews were of standard risk cases” I do want to say that they really were NOT!  But they might have been hidden to public agencies or we didn’t spot the coercion and control because there was little or no physical violence disclosed, or because the person doing the risk assessment didn’t understand its significance.  I really would commend to practitioners the severity of abuse grid that we have put in the IDVA version of the DASH checklist (http://www.caada.org.uk/dvservices/RIC_and_severity_of_abuse_grid_and_IDVA_practice_guidance.pdf  see pages 8 and 9).  Look at the examples of coercion and control included under sexual abuse, stalking and harassment and jealous and controlling behaviour.  As an aside, we are in favour of streamlining the DASH tool for police – but anxious not to confuse the tool itself from the training and supervision required to implement ANY tool effectively.  College of Policing please note!!

More broadly, I think that the options we offer those in Intimate Partner Terrorism relationships are broadly appropriate.  However, we offer the same interventions to those experiencing Situational Couple Violence – and Mike argued very convincingly that the dynamics are not the same.  Our data show that only about 15% of victims supported by IDVA services do not disclose jealous and controlling behaviour – perhaps they are in  situational couple violence relationships? Mike’s research shows that a significant percentage of these do not want to split up – but this is broadly the only option we are offering them today.  I say this with great caution – BUT – if someone is genuinely in a Situational Couple Violence relationship, surely we should be looking at work with the couple and even anger management?  These are all interventions that are traditionally seen as unsafe where Intimate Partner Terrorism is involved.

Mike was very clear that our starting point must be to assume Intimate Partner Terrorism and safety plan as if this was the case.  However, his analysis does give us a few more options if, and only if, a real risk expert, with a capital ‘E’, establishes that this is not the case.

November 9, 2013

Making the Links….DV and Safeguarding

I am slightly appalled that my ‘weekly’ blog has slipped to a ‘6 weekly’ event but won’t make excuses – rather just try and get started again.

Various things came together this week about our work which I just wanted to capture here.  In general, following a number of serious case reviews (Daniel Pelka, Baby T and others), it seems like we still can’t take for granted that the two issues of domestic abuse and risk to children will be systematically linked in practice.  We are really clear that whenever there is domestic abuse identified, we need to look for risk to children – whatever the level of risk to the mother.  Research by my former colleague Emma Howarth, showed that the risk of harm to children is not neatly correlated with the risk to the parent, and that children living with ‘standard’ risk domestic abuse can still be very vulnerable to physical and psychological harm.

So what were the things that I would like to highlight here:

1. It is all about the quality of implementation – 1: the Baby T Serious Case Review highlighted ‘poor implementation of the Hackney model’ and we frequently see variable implementation of the MARAC model, when agency representatives change or funding is cut.  If in doubt about what fidelity to the model looks like for the IDVA-MARAC approach, please do look at the resources on our website, talk to our team or contact our help desk.  We hope that everything we recommend is practical and do-able.

2. It is all about the quality of Implementation -2: a call to Commissioners: there are clear, independently verified, standards for risk led services through our Leading Lights programme and a robust outcomes measurement service that we provide through our Insights Programme.  These two tools can give you confidence that the funding you are making in this area is effective, and that the services provided meet the standards achieved in other regions.  Our MARAC team are working across all MARACs to support them in ensuring that local implementation stays faithful to the evaluated model.

3. The smallest possible thing to make the biggest possible difference: I was really struck by the simplicity and potential impact of Operation Encompass, where schools are notified in the morning when there has been a police call out for domestic abuse.  It would be great to hear from areas who are using this – it sounds a terrific idea.  Presumably this could extend to children’s centres too to cover younger children?

Lastly, I just hope – as I am sure all of you do too – that this is the ‘tipping point’ when DV and safeguarding stop being so siloed and that we do all make those links.

 

January 30, 2012

Protecting Our Children – a snapshot from Children’s Social Workers

Interesting suggestion for my blog from the Head of Services at Berkshire East and South Bucks Women’s Aid, Delia Donovan – which coincides with the broadcast tonight on the BBC of a new series about social workers in Bristol called ‘Protecting Our Children’.  If you get a chance to watch it, please do comment here or via Twitter or the CAADA Facebook page.  We are working with 3 other organisations, on a new tool for IDVAs to help identify opportunities for earlier intervention and support for children living with domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health issues.  It is still in draft but I will write more here about it when it is ready.

Anyway, see below for the latest results from a survey of social workers – not surprising but troubling all the same.

read more »

January 26, 2012

Why I love my job…

There are good days, bad days and days when you remember what a great job you have.  Yesterday was one of the latter.  I was delighted to host the first semi annual meeting of the managers of the accredited Leading Lights IDVA services.  I was slightly anxious beforehand as I wasn’t too sure how it would go.  I shouldn’t have worried.

I spent two of the most energising hours of the year with about a dozen service managers, hearing what they had achieved, how they were dealing with the current environment and a bit about their plans for the future.  I talked briefly (well as briefly as I could manage) about CAADA’s strategy and how we hope to achieve our 5 year goals of halving the number of high risk victims from 100,000 to 50,000 and halving the time it takes for them to get help from 5 years to 2.5 years – with all that this means for the safety and well-being of their children.  We then heard from Advance about their approach to working with commissioners.  They have recently been successful in expanding their IDVA service from Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent, to Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.  Finally, we had a fascinating discussion about the work that Blackpool Advocacy are doing with children and young people affected by domestic abuse, funded through Comic Relief.  This is obviously particularly relevant in view of the Government’s consultation about dropping the age of domestic abuse to 16.

Our plan is to meet again in six months, give ourselves a longer time to discuss things and perhaps invite in an outside speaker – as well as welcoming the newly accredited services to the party!  I know that everyone knows this – but the dedication and creativity of the people around the table was outstanding – so I will say it one more time.  And it is one reason why I love my job….

December 18, 2011

Wired – How abuse changes a child’s brain

Thanks to Andrea Thorley Baines from Blackpool for sending me this article from Wired.com 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.

read more »

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.

read more »

November 23, 2011

New Research from NSPCC and Refuge on Children living with Domestic Abuse in London

Important new research has been published by the NSPCC and Refuge today on the situation for children and young people living with domestic abuse in London.  It is still the case that the researchers highlight the following main findings:

    1. There are significant gaps in services addressing the needs of children and young people living with domestic violence in London.
    2. Some of the most vulnerable children and young people are the least likely to be able to access help when they need it. There should be a stronger emphasis on equality of access to help for children and young people, regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender, disability or parental immigration status.
    3. Children are rarely given opportunities to express their own views, and some professionals are reluctant to talk directly with children and young people and to involve them in decisions which affect them.
The research also comments on the use of the risk assessment and points out rightly that the focus is largely on the adult victim.  Perhaps it is timely to say that we are working on a triage tool that can be used not just in cases involving domestic abuse, but also substance misuse and mental health problems, to permit early identification of children who have needs that are not being met.  I hope too that our safeguarding CPD course goes some way to starting to bridge some of the gaps identified in the report.
And we really welcome the focus on the triage system, especially with health based IDVAs which can permit identification of abuse earlier and support to be offered in a really timely and effective way.  You can read the research at http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/findings/domestic_violence_london_pdf_wdf85830.pdf
November 13, 2011

Ages of Concern – Social Workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies – from Community Care

Social workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies

Social workers and other professionals are not always quick enough in their response to concerns about children under a year old because they underestimate the fragility of babies, according to an evaluation of serious case reviews.

The finding comes from an analysis of 482 SCRs – evaluated by Ofsted between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2011 – concerning 602 children, including 210 babies under one. It is included in a thematic report, Ages of Concern, published today by the watchdog to highlight key lessons learned from SCRs involving vulnerable groups – babies under one and children over 14.

read more »

November 8, 2011

Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse

Interesting judgement highlighted by the UK Human Rights blog.  Note that the local authority should take steps to safeguard a child’s welfare where they suspect that the child is at risk  – where it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to do so.  So does highlighting the risks at a MARAC constitute making it ‘reasonably practicable’.

 

Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse

ABB & Ors v Milton Keynes Council [2011] EWHC 2745 (QB)- read judgment

Justin Levinson of 1 Crown Office Row acted for the claimants in this case. He is not the author of this post.

This case concerned the entitlement to compensation for the years of abuse the claimants, three brothers a sister, the youngest, who had suffered at the hands of their father. The older claimants had both suffered regular abuse from an early age until late teens. The third claimant escaped the prolonged abuse suffered by his brothers. The fourth claimant, who was conceived after the defendant social services became aware of the situation, nevertheless endured abuse for five or six years.

The father’s abuse of the older boys came to light in 1992 when the first three claimants were placed on the child protection register and the father moved out of the family home. However charges against him were subsequently dropped and he returned home. The names were removed from the register but the abuse continued.

The facts were not disputed but the principal issue between the parties was that of the quality of social work practice adopted by the defendants’ employees and whether this fell below a reasonable standard.

Statutory and common law negligence

The statutory basis of the defendants’ duties is set out in Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.  Put simply, that section requires any local authority, which suspects that a child in its area is at risk, should take steps to safeguard the child’s welfare. However this duty only arises if it is within the authority’s power and it is “reasonably practicable”  for them to do so. The section does not, in itself, provide a civil cause of action for those who assert that the duty has not been complied with.  There is in addition to the statutory duty a common law – or judge-made – basis for the duty of care in the event of suspected child abuse is to be found in  D and others v East Berkshire Community Health [2003] EWCA Civ 1151.

Read the full post at Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse « UK Human Rights Blog.

 

November 3, 2011

Great Video from the WI on impact of Legal Aid cuts

A first for this not very techy blog…a really good video about the proposed legal aid cuts from the WI  – click here to watch