New unit to support families in Hertfordshire affected by child violence towards their parents

The new ‘family hub’ is part of the Beacon service

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:24 am

Growing reports of children attacking their parents has led to the launch of a new dedicated unit in Hertfordshire.

The new ‘family hub’ – launched just a few weeks ago – is part of the Beacon service that offers support to victims of crime across Hertfordshire.

But instead of supporting only the parents, the new unit is designed to work with the child or young person too.

The Beacon service offers support to victims of crime across Hertfordshire

And on Wednesday, September 29, members of Hertfordshire Criminal Justice Board heard that it was already making a difference.

Rebecca Bayley, head of the service that manages the hub, told board members there had been an increase in the number and severity of incidents of child on parent violence during the Covid-19 ‘lockdowns’.

And she said 70 per cent of parents who had experience of child on parent violence saw an increase in violent episodes during lockdown – putting pressure on existing services as a result.

The Beacon service had previously been able to support the parents, after reports were made to the police.

But she told the board that parents would also ask for support for the child who was exhibiting the abusive behaviour – which they could not provide.

Now the unit is able to offer support to all family members where a child’s abusive behaviour is controlling, threatening or intimidating.

Referrals to the service have already come from the county council’s children’s services, child and adolescent metal health services (CAMHS) and from domestic abuse services.

And the work of the unit can include 1-1 work with the child or young person or parent and restorative solutions with whole family – aiming to stop the abuse and recognise it is not acceptable.

At the meeting, Rebecca Bayley highlighted one family already supported by the new service – involving a child who was just eight years old.

She catalogued the unit’s work in providing one to one support, as well as risk assessments and work with family members around how to keep each other safe.

She said the work included the ‘control wheel’, triggers and anger management – as well as looking at positive responses, where things were ‘going right’.

And she says that as an outcome family members were able to better understand the triggers of the violent behaviour and understand when that might be a risk.

The remarks were made at a virtual meeting of the Hertfordshire Criminal Justice Board on Wednesday.

And following the meeting, head of victim services Kevin McGetrick said that if the work of the new hub could prevent just one ‘tragedy’ then it would be worthwhile.

“The Beacon Family Hub is both an innovative but sadly necessary response to increasing reports of child abuse on parents,” he said.

“At this stage we are unsure of the prevalence of child on parent abuse or demand for this new service.

“However, we are acutely aware of the sometimes tragic consequences should abuse within a family continue without effective intervention and support.

“This is where our new service comes in by offering a non-judgemental restorative approach to identifying and understanding the trigger factors that caused the abuse in the first place.

“We can then set about introducing support to address these. It is early days however the results from the families supported so far is very encouraging.

“If the Beacon Family Hub can prevent just one tragedy then it will all have been worthwhile.”