Child-against-parent abuse in Greater Manchester
: key themes, collaboration and preventative interventions

  • Simon Retford

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Domestic abuse has been widely researched, however one area relatively absent from such research is that of parent abuse, which sees abuse perpetrated by children against parents. Academic research into parent abuse has begun to increase over recent years, yet this still remains a significantly under-researched area of family violence. This thesis seeks to develop an understanding of key themes and collaborative prevention opportunities in relation to parent abuse in Greater Manchester, and makes recommendations for the development of practitioner responses. Accordingly, the research follows a qualitative paradigm in order to build a better understanding of key issues and to explore opportunities for collaborative responding in the current austere economic climate. The research design consisted of in-depth interviews conducted with practitioners drawn from a variety of public and third-sector agencies working within three boroughs across central Greater Manchester, and utilised open coding in a grounded theoretical approach. The research findings suggest that parent abuse is a unique problem that is complicated by bonds that exist between parent-victims and their abusive children. Parental reluctance to report incidents, through a fear of criminalising or losing their children adds to the difficulties for those responding to parent abuse. Furthermore, the research found problems created by an absence of specific policy, resulting in parent abuse being dealt with via child protection, social care or criminal justice processes. The research also revealed that young male perpetrators were highly prone to mental health and behavioural problems, and there was disproportionate cannabis use amongst young perpetrators. Whilst this may also be the case in the wider youth population, the potential for such correlation is worthy of specific consideration when seeking to further an understanding of parent abuse. Additionally, the importance of collaborative working was highlighted, which revealed opportunities for early intervention. Accordingly, the need for an integrated ‘toolkit’ for responding effectively to deal with parent abuse is proposed, which considers the key issues identified within this thesis. These issues contribute towards both academic knowledge and professional practice in an important but under-researched area of crime and victimisation.
Date of AwardJan 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNathan Hall (Supervisor), Jane Winstone (Supervisor) & Francis Pakes (Supervisor)

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