Supporting parents and young people to develop respectful relationships: RCPV EU Daphne action research project

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One of the things we have been grappling with since the start of the EU Daphne RCPV project last February is the thorny issue of defining and understanding child to parent violence and abuse (CPV) and why it remains such a hidden problem.  One thing we know for sure from our work with practitioners is that parents never use this term if and when they disclose it happening – they talk about having a family problem or they will say they can’t control their child. Professionals working with young people and families in a range of different settings, schools, social care, health, youth justice etc. tell us that they too struggle to understand and respond to this emerging serious social problem. 

Looking to the wider field of family violence we need to acknowledge that this is a relatively new area of research despite its extensive history and prevalence. Family violence largely happens behind closed doors and the family is characterised by a ‘deep-seated sense of privacy in the home, and intimate emotional attachments between children and parents’ (Jackson 2003:321). As with domestic violence, when violence and abuse occurs from a child to a parent this sharply disrupts and overturns our view of the family as a place of safety. And as Cohen (2001) has argued one dominant public response to the knowledge of violence and suffering is to deny that this form of violence is happening.  As a result this particular form of family violence remains hidden and poorly understood with very few services which specifically address CPV.

The RCPV Violence project has been working on raising awareness of this social problem over the last year and a key message for both parents and young people is that change is possible.  Once you recognise CPV is happening in your family then please seek help as quickly as you can but remember it is never too late to seek help and support. 

Cohen, S. 2001 States of Denial: Knowing about Atrocities and Suffering, Cambridge, Policy Press.

Jackson, D. 2003 Broadening Constructions of Family Violence: Mothers’ Perspective of Agression from their Children. Child and Family Social Work. 8: 321-329.