Detectives welcome 'vital first step' in better understanding child to parent abuse
29 Apr | 10:46

The results of the research, which began in 2019, have been made public this week

We are developing a greater understanding of child to parent violence – and importantly how we can help prevent such abuse.

We teamed up with Northumbria University and Al Coates MBE and Dr Wendy Thorley of the Children’s Emotional Language and Thinking (CEL&T) organisation to research what is often called Childhood Challenging Violent or Aggressive Behaviour (CCVAB).

We worked together with the aim of developing new ways to prevent such abuse in the home and provide support to families.

The results of the research, which began in 2019, have been made public this week and highlight that addressing CCVAB requires a multi-agency partnership approach.

Importantly, the study also recommends that recognising and recording CCVAB is an essential first step in understanding this form of abuse.

Welcoming the results, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Cass-Williams said: “It’s hard for victims to report abusive partners – let alone their own child – and this is where this research will prove ground-breaking.

“It’s in a parent’s nature to protect their child but sometimes it’s the parent, sibling or family member who needs to be protected from the child.

“This research is a vital first step in understanding this aspect of abuse more than ever before and making sure parents, carers and family members have the best possible support from police and every other agency. It is important that when dealing with cases of child to parent violence, there is a focus by police on appropriate intervention by partners rather than progressing solely down a criminal justice route.”

Det Chief Insp Cass-Williams added: “Child to parent abuse exists in many forms, it can be emotional or financial, it can see children damaging property or their home and, of course, it can be physical and violent.

“Raising awareness in how to recognise and record CCVAB is the necessary first step to understanding the extent and profile of CCVAB.

“Thanks to this research, we understand CCVAB better than ever before and are committed to continuing to further our understanding and revolutionise how we police and protect.”

Northumbria Police have already taken part in multi-agency awareness raising sessions with their colleagues from the six local authority areas and have, since March 2019, been referring cases on via the MASHs (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs) to allow partner agencies to review and offer appropriate intervention.

Jeannine Hughes, senior lecturer in Northumbria University’s Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, has been researching domestic abuse for two decades and has a background in youth offending social work.

She explained: “We know that there are a lot of families living with this in silence. This is a form of abuse that exists and we need to be able to provide targeted interventions to help people who find themselves in this situation.

“Without recording it accurately we can’t fully understand the scale of the problem. As such, we need to develop a clear understanding of the underlying causes of this form of abuse.

“This study and the systems Northumbria Police are implementing mean we will now have the data to be able to do this at a regional level, and we hope that we will be able to translate these to a national level in due course.”

A full copy of the report is available to download from

Anyone who believes they may be experiencing challenging, violent or aggressive behaviours from their children is urged to contact police on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

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