Social Work COVID 19, Non Violent Resistance, Child to Parent Violence and Abuse, Human Rights
Thirteen year old Marie’s parents (not her real name), rang their social worker as their daughter‘s behaviour had worsened since the COVID 19 pandemic closed schools and their workplaces. Marie was fighting with them much more, saying her parents were “crazy” and “it was alltheir fault”. As they spoke, Marie’s parents described feelings of hopelessness and helplessness as their daughter had, over the last few months, begun to use alcohol (and they suspected, drugs), gone missing from school and had broken a door and windows at home. Marie had beaten up her young brother, had pushed her parents around and threatened them with physical violence. They could not understand how Marie, who had been pleasant, happy, out-going and close to her parents, could change so much and treat them so badly. They felt there was nothing they could do. They felt at a loss…and initially, their social worker felt the same way. Experiences within the family of this kind of behaviour (also known as child to parent violence and abuse, CPVA) are surrounded with a veil of silence, with embarrassment, shame and fear (Coogan & Holt 2015, Coogan 2018, Bonnick 2019). This makes it very difficult for a parent/ carer to start a conversation about CPVA. But reaching out and talking is always a good first step, even though that first step is always very hard. For the people who work with families, like social workers and family support workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, listening to parents or carers talking about these experiences is always a good start. And as more parents began to talk about being afraid of their son or daughter to us and other practitioners who listen and work with parents and families around Ireland, they tell us that listening without judgement is really very important to them. But what can we do together to end the use of abusive and/or violent behaviour by some children and young people towards their parents?