Child to Parent Violence and Abuse

Child to parent violence and abuse (CPA) may also be referred to as ‘adolescent to parent violence (APV)’ ‘adolescent violence in the home (AVITH)’, ‘parent abuse’ or ‘battered parent syndrome’.

The term 'child' can also be used to refer to an adult child and it is important to recognise this where the victim is an older person, and cross-reference to our Older People pages.


There is currently no legal definition of child to parent violence and abuse. 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 It is important to recognise that CPA is likely to involve a pattern of behaviour. This can include physical violence from an adolescent towards a parent and a number of different types of abusive behaviours. Violence and abuse can occur together or separately. Abusive behaviours can encompass, but are not limited to, humiliating language and threats, belittling a parent, damage to property, stealing from a parent and heightened sexualised behaviours. However, some families might experience episodes of explosive physical violence from their adolescent with fewer controlling, abusive behaviours.

Although practitioners may be required to respond to a single incident of CPA, it is important to gain an understanding of the pattern of behaviour behind an incident and the history of the relationship between the young person and the parent. It is also important to understand the pattern of behaviour in the family unit; siblings may also be abused or be abusive. There may also be a history of domestic abuse, or current domestic abuse occurring between the parents of the young person. It is important to recognise the effects APVA may have on both the parent and the young person and to establish trust and support for both.

Child to Parent Abuse IDVA - The CPA IDVA works with parents./carers who are experiencing abuse from a child aged 16 or under where there has been police involvement.  The CPA IDVA accepts referrals from all professionals.  Please complete the CPA IDVA Referral Form below, which includes a risk assessment - please don't risk assess using the standard DASH form. 

What is the Family Respect project?

The YMCA Trinity Family Respect project is part of a larger domestic abuse programme across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire which is being funded by the Home Office.  The programme in its entirety has three strands which focus on: stalking and harassment, healthy relationships, and child to parent abuse. 

The Family Respect project is being led by YMCA Trinity Group through collaboration with The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and Respect UK.

The Family Respect project focuses on working with children and young people aged 10 to 16 years of age, who display any abusive behaviours towards their parents and carers, and other people in their family.  The focus is to support families who are experiencing child to parent abuse with a particular focus on working with the child or young person to facilitate change and growth within the family as a wider system. 

Can I make a referral to Family Respect?

As we know, abuse takes many forms, and the signs are often invisible to those on the outside of it.  Child to parent abuse is particularly hidden and misunderstood which often results in parents and carers feeling isolated, without any support.

Do you have a professional involvement with a child or young person aged 10 to 16 years of age, who you know is showing physical or violent behaviours towards other people in their home?  Maybe they have caused damage to items in their home, or to items which belong to someone else?   Have they used coercion and manipulation to control the freedom and choices of other people they live with? It could be that they use verbal insults or threats to other family members?  Or perhaps the abuse focuses on stealing, demanding money, or other people’s property? 

For YMCA to be able to accept a referral for a family we need to ensure that someone in the family has reached out to the police for support with the abusive behaviour and this might have been a phone call or by looking at information online.  If a young person has engaged with youth offending services, this is another way we can accept a referral.

If you know a child or young person between 10 and 16 years of age who needs support because of any abusive behaviours they are exhibiting towards their parents or carers, or towards other people in their home, this could be a well-suited programme for them to get involved with. 

If you know a young person outside of the age range, we still might be able to help provide support to them, so get in touch with us to discuss the referral in more detail so we can consider the support we might be able to offer.

The project is operating in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and referrals will be taken based on the location the young person resides.

How does the Family Respect work take place?

Our Family Respect project works with the child or young person in a face-to-face environment (where this is possible), working with them as part of the solution, rather than viewing them as the problem.  The intention is for young people to build a trusting relationship through the duration of our involvement.

  • Each family will be allocated a Family Respect worker who will complete the programme over a period of around 13 weeks. 
  • Throughout the duration of the programme, parent/carers will be offered support whilst the young person will be offered 8 individual sessions.
  • 2 sessions will take place collaboratively with the young person and their parents, carers, or alongside other family members as appropriate.
  • Each parent or carer will have the option to have their own support from an advocate which will enable them to share their own feelings and experiences about what has been happening, whilst giving thought to what the future might look like.

The intention is to rebuild family relationships and create long lasting change for everyone in the family, by providing healthy and sustainable approaches to managing conflict.

If you have a young person in mind, please complete our Family Respect online referral form which you can access here: Family Respect Project - Referral Form.

What consent do I need to have from the family?

If you submit a referral to the Family Respect programme, it is a mandatory requirement and expectation that you have already gathered consent from anyone who has parental responsibility for the child or young person. 

The family must understand that their consent means they are agreeing to being contacted by the Family Respect project.

You must obtain consent from the young person themselves where they are able to give their own consent. 

You must have gained this consent from all relevant people prior to the referral form being submitted to us; referrals will not be able to progress without consent being in place.



Help and Support

PEGS has been set up to support both parents and professionals deal with the issues associated with child to parent abuse. They have awareness and training sessions help people to learn new tools and techniques when dealing with abusive children, what policies are out there to assist families, and what other support networks and frameworks exist in the UK.





The first large scale study of adolescent to parent violence and abuse in the UK was conducted by the University of Oxford (see http://apv.crim.ox.ac.uk/) between 2010 and 2013. Practitioners and parents interviewed in this study described the abuse as often involving a pattern of aggressive, abusive and violent acts across a prolonged period of time. As well as physically assaulting their parents, those interviewed said their teenage children had smashed up property, kicked holes in doors, broken windows, had thrown things at their parents and made threats. Verbal abuse and other controlling behaviours were also commonly present. This pattern of behaviour creates an environment where a parent lives in fear of their child and often curtails their own behaviour in order to avoid conflict, contain or minimise violence. This study found that there was no single explanation for this problem. Families described a range of reasons which they saw to be the cause for APVA, including substance abuse, mental health problems, learning difficulties, or a family history of domestic violence or self-harm. Some families were at a loss to explain why their child was so aggressive towards them, having raised other children who did not display such behaviour.