CATS newsletter

June 2014



We are happy to say that CATS has settled well into its new home at Middlesex University. The university has been very supportive of CATS aims, and funded posts in the Centre. Outside funding has followed and the Centre is now increasing in size with a new permanent Research Fellow psychologist Ruth Spence, and a new research fellow in Criminology to be appointed this summer. CATS research, practice and training activities now span across four domains: wellbeing, lifespan development, crime and victimisation and experiences online.

Julia Davidson has her inaugural lecture on 18 May (link). This was a heartwarming event, covering equally the dangers of the internet together with the delights of alpaca! Toni’s will follow on 8 of July, 5-7pm (link). We look forward to further successes for CATS!



CATS receives funding for two large research grants

We are delighted to report that Prof Antonia Bifulco and colleagues at CATS have been awarded an ERC project grant of £480,000 for 3 years from this January 2014. The title is ‘Stress online: Developing a reliable and valid interactive online method for measuring stressful life events and difficulties.’ The project is in partnership with researchers from Goldsmiths University and Kings College, London. More details.
The second research grant awarded to CATS is the EC funded project ‘Developing Research Informed Good Practice: Policing and Industry Collaborative Models in Preventing Online Child Abuse and Profiling Child Victims’ (PI Prof Julia Davidson). This project will seek to draw together the existing evidence base on offender online behaviour and to identify policing and industry best practice in prevention, with the ultimate aim of promoting cooperation between law enforcement and industry. More details.



CATS paper to receive Highly Commended paper award

A paper written by the CATS team “Setting up a youth violence prevention project in a London hospital emergency department”, describing the evaluation undertaken of the St.Thomas’ Youth Violence Intervention was selected to receive the award of a Highly Commended paper for 2013 by the editorial board of the Journal of Public Mental Health. (Paper can be accessed here).



CATS symposium at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference

The CATS team are pleased to have had their latest Symposium Application for BPS annual conference 2014 accepted following a successful presentation in 2013. This year Alongside Dr Vittoria Ardino from Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, they presented on the theme ‘Parenting in vulnerable groups: implications for clinical health, social care and criminal justice agencies’. The symposium, which took place in Birmingham on the 7th May 2014, sought to explore parenting as an issue in vulnerable groups in terms of its consequences for family stability, parent-child interaction and the mental health of parent and offspring. This was discussed in relation to four risk groups: families whose mothers have depression risk; those seeking family support through inadequate care of children, support provision for families of offenders and costs of services for youth in transition. Costs to services, families and society if parenting interventions are not delivered in appropriate models of services was also discussed. Professor Bifulco outlined an attachment approach investigating parenting in intergenerational transmission of risk for emotional disorder in a community sample of women with risk for major depression. CATS researcher Catherine Jacobs looked at the piloting of the Parental Role Interview (devised in the first study) in social care practice and at models of its use in supporting families. Given parenting is often overlooked in prison populations, the third presentation by CATS' Jeffrey DeMarco outlined a recent Ministry of Justice review examining provision of parenting programmes for offenders and their families. Finally, Dr Ardino presented the consequences of problem parenting in relation to health and social care costs, examined in terms of access to transition services for youth at risk.



CATS Child internet Safety in Suriname

Professor Davidson has recently visited Suriname in South America to deliver a series of lectures based upon research undertaken by CATS focusing on: Child online safety, managing and risk assessing serious offenders and online child abuse. The lectures were delivered to practitioners (psychologists and teachers) and the public. She also worked on an awareness raising campaign with the national media which included television interviews ( ATV & ABC television), a radio broadcast (Apinte Radio) and a national newspaper article. She will return to the country to help set up Internet safety practice.



New partnership with Action for Children with St Christopher’s and CATS

We are delighted to share that the story of our ongoing collaboration with St Christopher's Fellowship has recently featured in Community Care news! The report described 'how an innovative package of attachment assessment tools is supporting work with vulnerable children and young people'. We are also very pleased that Action for Children has approached both St Christopher’s and CATS about extending the use of the Q pack to assess outcomes in foster children in their Scottish homes. This will serve to further extend this important work but also to validate its use in fostering as well as residential care. We look forward to working with Action for Children this Spring.



Ministry of Justice project completion

The project aimed to explore the provision of parenting and familial support to offenders, with a particular emphasis on investigating the effects and influence of incarceration on the family 'left behind' in society. An intensive scope of the literature highlighted key provisions administered by the third sector in assisting families with the prospect and reality of losing a loved one to prison whilst intensive ethnographic observations evaluated key organisations’ innovative approaches. Common themes emerged as being crucial in supporting families and offenders: diverse teams of professionals and volunteers working around the family unit as opposed to solely the offender; emotional and social support in the prisons and visiting centres for the family members; developing therapeutic alliances with fathers and mothers in correction facilities; skills provision, in particular empowering prosocial parenting were all seen as key. The final report can be found here and a forthcoming paper will soon be published.



Visit from Japanese collaborators

We were happy to meet with Prof Yoshida and Dr Kihara from Kyushu University in Japan last summer to update our strong collaboration using the Attachment Style Interview (ASI) assessment measure. The Japanese team also include Prof Hayashi from Tokyo University and together they having been using their translation of the ASI since 2001. They completed their first ASI training in Japan in 2008 to aid with research on perinatal and adolescent vulnerability for psychological disorder. They have now held over 19 training seminars for postgraduates, researchers and clinicians Over 200 have now trained in Japan. The measure is proving very popular and discussions are underway to translate ‘Understanding Adult Attachment’ (Bifulco & Thomas, 2012) into Japanese. A series of joint conference presentations are planned. The CATS team are delighted that the ASI has proved so popular in Japan and congratulate Prof Yoshida, Hayashi and their teams on their excellent work. We look forward to further important collaboration.



Attachment Style Interview Training Germany

CATS member Dr Adina Rusu, who worked as a researcher with the team when conducting her PhD studies at Royal Holloway, has been advocating the use of the ASI with her German colleagues in a variety of clinical and physical illness contexts. She organised the second ASI training, which took place in October 2013. For this session all the materials had been translated into German, with the potential for major influence on research taking place there. Prof Bifulco conducted the course with the aid of Dr Rusu. Dr Rusu has also an author on Lifespan publications (see below).


Prof Bifulco’s training workshops in Italy

CATS associate Dr Vittoria Ardino from the LSE has invited Toni Bifulco to run brief training sessions for practitioners in Italy at two day workshop for 140 practitioners from social care and psychological services. The workshop will cover both assessment of neglect and abuse using the CECA and attachment style measures for children which is recently piloted. CATS already has extensive collaboration with Italian teams who have validated both the CECA and ASI in adult samples. Toni also looks forward to undertaking PRI training in Palermo with colleagues Prof Giannone and Prof Schimmenti in the autumn.



Prof Adriano Schimmenti’s visiting fellowship at CATS

Our long term esteemed colleague and collaborator Adriano Schimmenti was recently awarded Associate Professor status in a national competition in Italy—we extend our warm congratulations. Adriano has also been awarded a visiting research fellowship by Middlesex University for CATS. Adriano has helped with publishing CATS data with 3 papers accepted with other colleagues in recent months:



Prof Davidson’s NSPCC conference presentation

Prof Julia Davidson, CATS co-director, recently did a talk titled 'The Evolution of children's Online Behaviour' at an International NSPCC conference in London along with NSPCC Young Campaigners. International research suggests that, although access may vary, children and young people are avid and enthusiastic users of technology regardless of geographical location (Davidson & Martellozzo, 2012: Livingstone, 2013). Research in the UK has demonstrated that children are increasingly using handheld technology and that very young children have access to the Internet (OFCOM, 2013). Our research with young people suggests that technology is increasingly an integral aspect of their lives (Webster, Davidson & Bifuclo, 2014 forthcoming). This talk considered the way in which children’s online behaviour has evolved, reflecting upon both the positive impact and potentially negative consequences. The aim of the talk was also to consider strategies and protective techniques developed by young people (who participated in the session) in response to potential online harm.
View full presentation here.



Jeffrey De Marco’s PhD Research

Jeffrey's doctoral research set about investigating the relationship between coercive and non-coercive authority figures (specifically the police) and adolescents displaying risk to engagement in anti-social behaviour. In particular, elements of intergroup contact theory were applied in exploring whether improvements in trust towards the police could be attained through social interactions with these various authority figures. Additionally, the development of a new psychometric tool for measuring trust, the Trust in Authority Questionnaire (TAQ), was a central focus. The TAQ itself was developed throughout the thesis with a range of methods and was scrutinised via piloting, reliability and validity tests. It is currently being considered for national administration.



Howard League Conference presentations

CATS were well represented at the recent Howard League Conference (2/4/14) with two presentations from its members at a conference dedicated to (and titled) re-imagining youth justice. Yael presented data about the St.Thomas' intervention, titled Youth Support in the Emergency Department: A hospital intervention to reduce youth violence. Jeffrey presented a paper based on his own research at RHUL, titled Coalition in Criminal Justice: ‘At risk’ youth working with the police.



SISST presentation by Antonia Bifulco

Prof Bifulco presented at in Bologna 12-13 June conferences organised by the SISST (Italian Society for the Study of Stress and Trauma) and titled 'Defining trauma in childhood: Methods and instruments for psychological diagnosis.



CATS Co-director to join Expert Academic Group on Child Abuse

Prof Davidson has been invited to join the Association of Chief Police Officers Expert Academic Group on Child Abuse. She will be working with a group of academics including Profs Munro and Livingstone from the LSE to explore the current evidence base in order to inform policing practice with child victims in the UK.


Latest CATS lifespan publications

Bifulco, A., Schimmenti, A., Moran, P., Jacobs, C., Bunn, A., & Rusu, A. (in press). Problem parental care, and teenage deliberate self-harm in young community adults. Journal of the Menninger Bulletin.

Bifulco, A., Schimmenti, A., Jacobs, C., Bunn, A., & Rusu, A. C. (2014). Risk Factors and Psychological Outcomes of Bullying Victimization: A Community-based Study. Child Indicators Research. doi: DOI10.1007/s12187-014-9236-8

Schimmenti, A., & Bifulco, A. (2013). Linking lack of care in childhood to anxiety disorders in emerging adulthood: the role of attachment styles. Child & Adolescent Mental Health. doi: i:10.1111/camh.12051

Smith, P., Davidson, J. & Thompson, F. (in press) Cyber safety for adolescent girls: bullying, harassment, sexting, pornography, and solicitation. Journal of Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Bergen E, Davidson J, Schulz A, et al. (in press) The effects of using identity deception and suggesting secrecy on the outcomes of adult-adult and adult-child or adolescent online sexual interactions. Victims & Offenders


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Profs Julia Davidson and Antonia Bifulco, CATS co-directors



CATS relaunch event at the House of Lords



CATS team at the BJP symposium



Prof Bifulco with Prof Yoshida and Dr Kihara, ASI collaborators from Japan