Pell, Bethan

Start date:
October 2021
Research Topic:
Child to Parent Violence
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Rhiannon Evans and Dr Honor Young
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:

Theorising inter-generational violence between children and parents: A qualitative study in Wales.

Child to parent violence (CPV) is highly prevalent internationally and within the UK. In the UK, the first large scale study conducted 2010-2013 found 1,892 reported incidents of CPV over one year. However, it is estimated that figures of CPV are increasing and have been particularly intensified by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

CPV is still significantly under-researched, particularly in Wales, despite it being a social care area of concern. It has been associated with a number of adverse child experiences including domestic violence and abuse in the home, which disproportionately affects children in care. Exposure to higher rates of adverse child experiences relates to poorer outcomes later in life, and evidence suggests greater inequality in Wales than England. Children who engage in CPV are also more likely to present with broader patterns of antisocial behaviour, which are highly linked to contact with social care services. CPV is also associated with negative physical and psychological health consequences, as well as significant economic costs.

There is no legal definition for CPV, or consensus on how to define it. It is currently acknowledged within the UK definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse and is therefore usually conceptualised and responded to as a form of Domestic Violence and Abuse. However, this definition does not sufficiently recognise the complexities of CPV. For example, it excludes CPV involving young people aged under 16, negates the consequences of labelling a child as a perpetrator, and does not account for the context of CPV (i.e. as a form of self-defence). Several definitions of CPV are used by different stakeholders (i.e. academics, practitioners, parents) which not only reinforces the complexity of the phenomena, but highlights the lack of conceptual framework on which the current knowledge base is formed.

Parents and practitioners have raised the need for clear and specific policy around CPV. Additionally, a recent inter-disciplinary workshop, establishing a future social and public health agenda for Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) research in Wales ( identified understanding CPV as one of the key priorities in Wales. Developing a theoretical foundation on which to understand this phenomena has been recommended. This PhD addresses the current gap in knowledge; its aim is to theorise inter-generational violence between children and parents.