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16 Jun '21

Child To Parent Violence - Definitions, Characteristics & Language

Posted by Carolyn in News

Children’s mental health and wellbeing expert Tony France joined Medica CPD this week for what was an enlightening and powerful discussion surrounding child to parent violence (CPV) - a tough but important topic.

Participants were introduced to the practical and moral maze surrounding the issue, including CPV definitions and language used to describe the issue, as well as the behavioural characteristics associated with CPV.

CPV definitions

Key academics across the last twenty years have offered their definitions of CPV backed by empirical research. Here are the main meanings:

- Child to parent violence is a harmful act carried out by a child with the intention to cause physical, psychological, or financial pain or to exert power and control over a parent or carer. (Cottrell 2001; Calvette et al., 2013)

- Adolescent to parent violence (APV) is definded to include any acts of violence, threats of violence, or criminal damage in the home by an adolescent (aged 13-19) towards a parent/carer. (Oxford University)

- Child to parent abuse (CPA) can be defined as any act of a child (usually under 18) that is intended to cause physical, psychological or financial damage to gain power and control over a parent/carer.

Home Office definitions

The Government have failed to define CPV on its own. Rather, they categorise its meaning within a broader spectrum, which includes adult to adult behaviour:

- ‘Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.’

- ‘Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.’

Language surrounding CPV

There is no language currently to describe elements surrounding child to parent violence, which makes the subject more difficult to discuss and interpret, according to Tony France.

Tony also asked the question of whether child to parent violence should come under domestic abuse, or even assault, where police may be involved. Delegates on the course were posed the question in the form of a poll, where there was a split of opinions, suggesting the ambiguity of the language that should be used to describe CPV.

Tony then suggested that the more indirect term of “family violence” may be useful to label child to parent violence, loosening the stigma of the CPV term.

Characteristics related to CPV

Certain behaviours in violent children and young people have been found to be associated with CPV, which may help in foreseeing potential incidences of violence:

- Substance misuse: Risk of CPV increased by 60% when young people engaged (Pagani et al., 2004).

- Anger management: Aggression was an early predictor of CPV, with aggressive behaviour at age six predicting later CPV (Pagini et al., 2003).

- Mental illness: This was identified as a characteristic of young people who perpetrate CPV, 29% prescribed medication for psychiatric reasons, 10.9% had attempted suicide, 50% of young people with ADHD had been violent towards parents (Kennedy et al., 2010).

- Child maltreatment and family violence: Estimates that between 50-75% of young people who perpetrate CPV had witnessed or experienced violence in the home.

Forthcoming Medica CPD conference:

Let’s Talk about Anxiety, Self-Harm & Suicide Conference 2021
Date: 30 November 2021
Time: 9.30AM - 4.15PM
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