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Young People Using Abusive Behaviour

There is currently no legal definition of child to parent violence and abuse (CPV). However, it is increasingly recognised as a form of domestic violence and abuse and, depending on the age of the child, it may fall under the government’s official definition of domestic violence and abuse. One mother said that it felt like

a slow and steady erosion of you as their mum, then suddenly they are in control”. 



It is important to recognise that incidents of CPV reported to the police are likely to represent only a small percentage of actual incidents and actual levels are likely to be much higher. All forms of domestic violence and abuse are under-reported and parents are, understandably, particularly reluctant to disclose or report violence from their child. Parents report feelings of isolation, guilt and shame surrounding their child’s violence towards them, and fear that their parenting skills may be questioned and that they will be blamed or disbelieved by those to whom they disclose the violence. Many parents worry that their victimisation will not be taken seriously or, if they are taken seriously, that they will be held to account and that their child may be taken away from them and/or criminalised.

It is important that a young person using abusive behaviour against a parent receives a safeguarding response. Home Office guidance states:

Young people responsible for CPV may be identified within schools in a variety of ways, often through other issues, including problematic behaviours towards peers and / or school staff, non-attendance, non-engagement with school activity, unfinished assignments, substance misuse problems, bullying, depression etc. Many of these markers may also identify families where adult domestic violence and abuse and/or child abuse is on-going or has occurred in the past. 

Home office 2015

Disclosures within school may arise in a variety of ways via the young person themselves, peers, siblings or parents. Parents may present as fearful, ashamed, guilty or intimidated by their child. A consideration of possible CPV should be included in any assessment when making parents accountable for child’s behaviour i.e. absenteeism. Many parents will not wish to criminalise their child and will often minimise the seriousness of behaviours or be unwilling to discuss the issues for fear of a blaming response.

 It is important for practitioners to believe victims, whether young people or parents, take their concerns seriously and validate the impact on them. Initial safety concerns or basic safety planning should always be addressed. School nurses are often able to build trusting relationships with school children and their families, and so may be the first professional to become aware of a problem within the family. This should be addressed in the same way as they would any other safeguarding issue. Within educational settings, as with all other child protection concerns, in-school procedures should be adopted with referral to child protection leads and onward multi agency referrals /co-working as appropriate. 


 For more information and resources, please visit: https://holesinthewall.co.uk/