Child to Parent Violence and Abuse


Information Guide - Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse


Domestic Abuse Procedure


In April 2021 this chapter was updated throughout in line with local practice and terminology.

1. Definition of Child to Parent Violence and Abuse (CVPA)


There is currently no legal definition of child to parent violence and abuse however it may be referred to as: Adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA) 'adolescent to parent violence (APV)' 'adolescent violence in the home (AVITH)', 'parent abuse', 'child to parent abuse', 'child to parent violence (CPV)', Childhood Challenging Violent or Aggressive Behaviour (CCVAB) or 'battered parent syndrome'.

Domestic abuse is defined in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 (expected to be enacted in 2021), and when referenced throughout the guidance should be interpreted as such. As set out in the Bill, Domestic Abuse is defined as:

(1) Behaviour of a person ("A") towards another person ("B") is "domestic abuse" if

  1. A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other; and
  2. The behaviour is abusive.

(2) Behaviour is "abusive" if it consists of any of the following:

  1. Physical or sexual abuse;
  2. Violent or threatening behaviour;
  3. Controlling or coercive behaviour;
  4. Economic abuse (see subsection (4));
  5. Psychological, emotional or other abuse.

And it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

(3) "Economic abuse" means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B's ability to

  1. Acquire, use or maintain money or other property; or
  2. Obtain goods or services.

(4) For the purposes of this Part A's behaviour may be behaviour "towards" B despite the fact that it consists of conduct directed at another person (for example, B's child).

(5) References in this Part to being abusive towards another person are to be read in accordance with this section.

Personally Connected is defined in section 2 of the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 as:

(1) For the purposes of this Part, two people are "personally connected" to each other if any of the following applies:

  1. They are, or have been, married to each other;
  2. They are, or have been, civil partners of each other;
  3. They have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
  4. They have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
  5. They are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other;
  6. They each have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child (see subsection (2)); they are relatives.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(f) a person has a parental relationship in relation to a child if

  1. The person is a parent of the child; or
  2. The person has, or has had, parental responsibility for the child.

(3)In this section

"child" means a person under the age of 18 years;

"civil partnership agreement" has the meaning given by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004;

"parental responsibility" has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 (see section 3 of that Act);

"relative" has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

The government's draft statutory guidance framework on domestic abuse (July 2020) refers to Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse:

  • "As being increasingly recognised as a form of domestic abuse. SafeLives data has shown that young people accessing services who cause harm to family members can do so through the same broad categories of behaviour seen in other forms of domestic abuse: physical violence was the most prevalent, with 57% of young people causing physical harm and nearly a quarter (24%) demonstrated jealous and controlling behaviour[1];
  • Dynamics and motivations behind these behaviours may be different to partner abuse but it is important that a young person using abusive behaviour against a parent receives a safeguarding response, which may include referral to MARAC (Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference), regardless of whether there is any police action taken. Responders should use their discretion and professional judgement when addressing cases of APVA (note – this is referred to as CPVA in Northumbria);
  • The parent victim should also receive appropriate domestic abuse response and support. The provision of an understanding, respectful and professional first response is vital in determining the future resolution of this family crisis. Parents say that one of the most important forms of help and support is being listened to and believed. See the Home Office [2] guide on APVA (note – this is referred to as CPVA in Northumbria) for more information, including the recommended responses by police, health professionals and social workers".

While this definition applies to those aged 16 or above, CPVA can equally involve children under 16, and the advice in this document reflects this.

It is important to recognise that CPVA is likely to involve a pattern of behaviour. This can include physical violence from a child towards a parent and a number of different types of abusive behaviours, including damage to property, emotional abuse, and economic/financial abuse. 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 and stealing from a parent and heightened sexualised behaviours. Patterns of coercive control are often seen in cases of CPVA, but 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 CPVA, 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.


The working definition of Child to Parent Violence and Abuse (CPVA).that has been adopted by Northumbria Police in 2021 is:

"Any harmful act and/or behaviour by a child (aged 10-18) whether physical, psychological, emotional or financial towards a parent, guardian or carer"

[1] Safe Young Lives: Young People and domestic abuse
[2] Information guide: adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA)

Whilst the age range is proposed as 10-18 years, consideration also needs to be given to the developmental age of the child where they have learning disabilities.

CPVA is a complex problem and the boundaries between 'victim' and 'perpetrator' can be unclear. In Northumbria, professionals use the term 'young person causing harm' as opposed to 'perpetrator' as the violence and abuse is often (although not always) contextualised within existing family problems and many 'perpetrating' abuse towards their parents are, or have been victims or secondary victims of domestic abuse, child abuse or other forms of adversity. It is often difficult to observe or assign labels of 'perpetrator' and 'victim' and there are numerous concerns about criminalising a young person for their behaviour, and the negative impact that this may have on their future life chances. Professionals working with children, young people and parents should seek to identify risk factors early and work together with the family to provide early support to avoid crisis situations.

Stigma plays a key, paralysing role in stopping families from looking for help and must be recognised by frontline professionals. Professionals who visit the family home, such as social workers, midwives, health visitors, school nurses etc. should be alert to the signs of CPVA and know how to respond. CPVA may be picked up at other community settings such as children's centres.

Identified cases of CPVA should always be treated as a safeguarding issue.

2. Risk Assessment with Children and Young People perpetrating CPVA

There are specific factors to consider when working with children and young people who are involved in child to parent violence and abuse:

Environmental factors:

  • Is there a history of domestic abuse within the family unit?
  • Is the young person in an abusive intimate relationship?
  • Are adult services involved with the family?
  • Is the young person being coerced into abusive behaviours?
  • Is the young person displaying heightened sexualised behaviours?
  • Is the young person associating with peer groups who are involved in offending or older peers?
  • Are Children's Services currently involved with the family?
  • Should a risk assessment be conducted on the siblings to see if they are at risk of violence and/or contributing to the violence?
  • Is the young person isolated from people and services that could support them?
  • Is there a risk that the young person is being bullied?
  • Are there any intersectional issues (e.g. linked to disability, ethnicity, sexuality, race etc.) that need to be considered or that may affect a victim's disclosure?

Emotional self-regulation:

  • Does the young person have difficulties in forming relationships?
  • Does the young person have mental health issues, self-harm or suicidal tendencies?
  • Is the young person disengaged from education?
  • Is the young person misusing substances?
  • Does the young person display an obsessive use of violent games or pornography?
  • Does the young person have poor coping skills or engage in risk taking behaviours?
  • Does the young person identify their behaviour as abuse?
  • Has the child experienced any other childhood adversity?

3. Response to the Child

It is important that a child using abusive behaviour against a parent, guardian or carer receives an appropriate safeguarding response as well as the victim.

It is important that the child takes responsibility for their behaviour. While the use of out of court disposals in the context of domestic abuse need to be approached with caution, in the context of cases of CPVA, out of court disposals or a wrap-around safeguarding response should be considered alongside any criminal justice response as most parents wish to build and maintain their parent-child relationship and do not want their child to be criminalised. This means that typical domestic abuse responses holding perpetrators to account may not always be appropriate. Practitioners highlight the need for tailored responses to CPVA rather than relying upon generic parenting programmes and also identify the need to move away from the emphasis on parental responsibility and blame.

Children may need support from a wide range of local agencies. Where a child could benefit from coordinated support from more than one agency (e.g. education, health, social care, and police) there should be an inter-agency assessment. These early assessments (such as those used in early help ) should identify what help the child requires to prevent their needs and behaviour escalating to a point where intervention would be needed via a statutory assessment under the Children Act 1989. Consideration must always be given to the risks posed to the parent and their support needs, as part of a whole family approach.

A RIC Screening Tool has been developed to help your assessment.

4. Response to the Victim

Where CPVA involves a victim who meets the Care Act safeguarding adults definition i.e.

A person who:

  1. Has needs for care and support(whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs);
  2. Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  3. As a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

Adult Safeguarding procedures should be followed. This will allow multi agency information to be gathered, a shared risk assessment to be collated and a safety plan agreed for the family.

However, not all parents will meet this threshold and so there should always be a process of safety planning put in place for the parent – see Sections 6, Assessment and Planning and Section 7, Safety Planning.

Consideration must also be given to the impact on the parent's health. As with domestic abuse from an ex/partner, abuse from a child can significantly impact on a victim's physical and mental health and wellbeing such as anxiety, depression, stress, loss of sleep, physical injury etc. It may result in parents self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Those who experience CPVA often suffer a great deal before seeking support. This is often linked to feelings of failure in the parenting role, and the shame and stigma of having a child who is abusing them.

The majority of families are seeking a long-term solution whereby they are able to remain safely together, even if the initial request for help is for the removal of the child to ensure safety and provide respite. In this respect, CPVA differs from intimate partner violence. The restoration of healthy, respectful family relationships should be the ultimate goal.

Most specialist domestic abuse services offer support to parents who are being abused by their children (including abuse by adult children). Referrals to domestic abuse services and/or Victims First Northumbria should always be considered. See Section 8, Checklist and Help and Support Agencies for a list of the local authority commissioned domestic abuse services who support parents who are being abused by their children.

If the parent is high risk (assessed via the RIC Screening Tool) and the child is aged 16+ then a MARAC referral should be made. If the child causing harm is aged under 16 the MARAC may still consider the referral but on a case-by-case basis.

5. Strategy Meeting/Safeguarding Enquiries

As part of the adult safeguarding procedures, a safeguarding enquiry will commence to establish any further action to be taken and by whom. Children's services will be integral to the enquiry and it is expected that where the child has an allocated worker from children's social care, then that worker will be in attendance at any meeting or discussion convened as part of the safeguarding enquiry. Where the child does not have an allocated social worker a safeguarding referral should be made to the local authority's safeguarding front door who may allocate a worker to attend any meeting convened as part of the adult safeguarding enquiry. A Section 42 Enquiry undertaken in accordance with the Care Act can take the form of a strategy meeting or discussion, and Children's Services should be involved in this enquiry. Where a formal meeting is not held, information will be gathered from all relevant agencies to inform the safeguarding decision.

The principles of 'Making Safeguarding Personal' are central to Safeguarding Adults enquiries and decisions, which should be person led and outcome focused. This means consent to the safeguarding process must be sought from individuals, unless there are concerns about their mental capacity to make this decision, or if others may be at risk. Most importantly individuals should be given opportunities at all stages of the safeguarding process to express their views and wishes.

It is important to note that there is a need to consider the mental capacity of vulnerable young people, if they are aged 16 years and over. If there is concern regarding a young person's ability to make a decision, a capacity assessment under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) must be considered for each specific decision. It should be recognised that mental capacity can be affected by a number of factors, including the abusive situation the person is in, and by any threats or coercion.

Working Together states that whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, there should be a strategy discussion involving the local authority Children's Social Care (Social Worker and their Manager), the Police, Health and other such relevant bodies, such as the referring agency. This may take the form of a multi-agency strategy meeting or telephone calls. The Strategy Meeting must take place within two working days of the identification of the significant harm concerns.

The Strategy Discussion/Meeting must include adult care representation.

The Strategy Discussion/Meeting should decide as to whether the threshold is met to initiate a Section 47 child protection enquiry and a Child and Family assessment.

6. Assessment and Planning

As a minimum, a Child in Need/Child and Family assessment should be considered for all cases where there is CPVA and must include the multi-agency contribution of all relevant professionals known to the family.

Any resulting Plan (e.g. Early Help, Child in Need or Child Protection Plan) must clearly set out the immediate and longer term actions and safety plan required to safeguard and support the family, the visiting frequency; including the detail of any direct work to be undertaken with the child.

The Plan must also be formally reviewed 4-6 weekly by the multi-agency Care Team/Core Group with monthly formal supervision from the Senior Practitioner/Assistant Team Manager or Team Manager. Where plans are not progressing or the risks are increasing, the Team Manager must share and discuss this with the Senior Manager/Service Manager.

7. Safety Planning

Safety planning is a practical process that practitioners can use with anyone affected by domestic abuse and that includes those affected by CPVA. It is vital that safety planning is done with the parent (the adult victim) and any other family members at risk of harm. It should be a core element of working in partnership with victims and other agencies, taking into account the outcomes of risk assessment and risk management. Safety planning involves more than assessing potential future risk; it can help create psychological safety, space to recover and freedom from fear. Other members of the household's responses to questions about what they do when there is violence or abuse should be considered in safety planning. Risk assessments can assist safety planning and should aim to:

  • Help to understand the parent's fear and experiences as well as the fears of the child;
  • Use and build on existing positive coping strategies;
  • Provide a safe physical space to recover;
  • Link to the relevant assessment framework being used by the agency and provide a holistic approach to safety and well-being;
  • Be part of a continuous process and ensure that safety planning links into the overall plan for the victim and is not completed as an isolated process;
  • Ensure safety plans are tailored to the individual. A 'one size fits all' approach is ineffective and potentially dangerous.

8. Checklist and Help and Support Agencies

There are local referral pathways for CPVA once cases are considered by the safeguarding front door.

Below is a checklist that can be considered once the relevant child safeguarding enquiries / referral have been made into the local authority safeguarding front-door, according to the local authority's safeguarding policies and procedures.

  • Has a check been made to see if the parent experiencing the abuse has any health and social care needs in line with the Care Act definition which would require local Adult Safeguarding procedures to be followed?
  • Has there been an assessment of the immediate safety and needs of all family member e.g. using the local risk screening tool (APVA RIC Screening Tool with the parent to help determine the level of risk?
  • If the adult victim is high risk and the child causing harm is 16 or over, has a referral to MARAC been made? For children causing harm aged under 16, has the case been discussed with the MARAC Chair / MASH Co-ordinator to see if it can be heard at MARAC on a case-by-case basis? If not accepted into MARAC, has a referral been considered to the local IDVA service (the commissioned domestic abuse service);
  • If the victim is medium of standard risk, has a referral (with consent) been made to other help and support services e.g. Victims First Northumbria, or other services according to the parent/carers' needs?
  • Has information been shared on other help and support available for parents living with CPVA which can include:
    • PEGS - they accept self-referrals from parents and also referrals from professionals Email:;
    • Family Lives (previously Parentline) have a confidential helpline for parents, which includes parents experiencing violence from their children Tel: 0808 800 2222. They also have an online chat accessed via the website;
    • Childline: 0800 1111;
    • Respect Helpline Tel 0808 802 4040;
    • Women's Aid – see website for online chat and survivors handbook;
    • National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247;
    • Holes in the Wall too- the resources page includes informative leaflets to hand to parents, tried and tested programmes and a directory of services. It also include a blog by Helen Bonnick on parents' experiences of CPVA;
    • Family Rights Group are a national charity offering advice to families who need extra support Tel: 0808 801 0366;
    • Leap confronting conflict: Leap works nationally with young people and adults, helping them to understand and manage the everyday conflict in their lives and support them to become role models and leaders of positive change.

Local risk screening tool developed specifically to assess risk to a parent experiencing child to parent violence and abuse. CPVA RIC Screening Tool

There is further helpline / support agency contained in the Child to Parent Violence: A Practical Guide for all Family Members who are Experiencing or Have Experienced Violence or Abuse from their Child.

9. Further National Information

Home Office Information guide: adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA)

Note: in Northumbria, the term CPVA is used as opposed to APVA which is used by the Home Office.