Vanessa Bettinson & Christina Quinlan

Abstract title: Adolescent to Parent Violence: Why we need to talk about it

Authors: Prof Vanessa Bettinson & Dr Christina Quinlan

Keywords: Child; Adolescent; Parents; Violence; Hidden


In this paper, we present our work on the issue of APV, Adolescent to Parent Violence. APV is an under-researched issue, and so our research, though small scale, does make an important contribution to the field.

In our research, we undertook a preliminary investigation into current understandings of APV among staff within the voluntary and statutory sector in Leicester. Leicester City Council funded the research. In addition, we won a #DMUengage grant to further develop our work on the issue. The hope is that findings of the research will be used to inform future practice in the delivery of services in cases of APV. The project will also be used by us to start a conversation, locally, nationally and internationally, on the topic of APV.

The research was carried out in Leicester. We used a case study research methodology. This was the appropriate methodology for the study as this methodology allows for an in-depth exploration of the phenomenon under investigation. Within the case study methodology, three different data gathering methods were used: a focus group, carried out in two parts; two narrative gathering exercises, both of which were administered during the two-part focus group; and, finally a review of APV case files was undertaken. In total nine APV cases were reviewed; the nine case files were selected for review by staff of three different agencies.

The research was undertaken under the ethical guidance of DMU Research Ethics. Ethical approval was secured from the De Montfort University, Leicester, Faculty Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Business and Law.

To begin with, a review of the literature was undertaken. This review of the literature highlighted the hidden nature of APV; the fact that APV is absent from official discourses; and it highlighted evidence of difficulties in identifying, recording, and providing appropriate responses to, incidences of APV. Particularly problematical are CJS (Criminal Justice System) responses to the issue.

The analysis carried out highlighted very concerning levels of violence perpetrated, as well as correspondingly high levels of harms experienced by victims. A key issue in many APV cases is the complexity of each case, and the complexity of the traumas in the life experiences of many of the young perpetrators. The most concerning aspect of APV, from a societal perspective, is its hidden nature. In this paper, we explain why we need to talk about APV, and we explore the ways and means by which we might start and develop this conversation.