Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse

Child / Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) may also be called ‘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 CAPVA. 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 or carer 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 or carer. 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/Carer Harm Policy - this guidance aimed at Children's Social Care staff working in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is available at Child to Parent/Carer Harm Policy (proceduresonline.com)

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?

The Family Respect Project are now accepting referrals from police only.

  • Three Briefing Papers for people new to the issue of CAPVA have been created as a free resource to be shared (attached to this newsletter) that cover: 
  1. What do we mean by Child Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse: Definitions. Impact. Who does it affect? What are the indicators? Age this can start?
  2. Why does it happen? Contributing factors. Case Studies
  3. What can we do about it? Case Studies to demonstrate effectiveness of strategies outlined.

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.