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Child to parent violence: furthering our understanding of child to parent violence, with a focus upon its context and impact upon the child and family. THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED

Vice-Chancellor PhD Scholarship



The project will explore the context and impact of child to parent violence. Its primary focus is how social care conceptualises and responds to child to parent violence, currently an under-researched area, in order to add new perspectives and inform policy and practice.

Aims and objectives

Research into child to parent violence is in its infancy, the extent of the problem is difficult to determine with any accuracy, as it remains a hidden and taboo subject (Holt, 2012). It has received scant policy attention, but professional responses to child to parent violence fit uncomfortably within the child protection and domestic violence frameworks (Miles and Condry, 2016) and can be a source of tension between professional groupings (Nixon, 2012). Much of the current evidence comes from overseas and the extent to which it is applicable to the UK context is debatable, as UK, research in this area remains relatively sparse. Evidence from police records suggest that boys are much more likely than girls to be violent and mothers more likely to be victimised, by both girls and boys, than fathers (Miles and Condry, 2016).

Current evidence would suggest that whilst there no single explanation for child to parent violence, pathways are complex and often co-exist with other behavioural difficulties, including substance abuse (Home Office, 2013; Galvani, 2010). Domestic abuse often features in the background of many children who use violence against their parents. Given this complex picture, there is an urgent need for social care professionals to respond to this form of family violence in order to meet the needs of all family members, children and parents.

 This timely research will explore the following objectives:

  1. To review the evidence base for child to parent violence, including where there are gaps.
  2. To explore the social care policy context for child to parent violence, with a focus upon how it is conceptualised, understood and explained.
  3. To understand how far child to parent violence is related to other forms of violence and abuse, including whether and how it differs.
  4. To explore how young people explain violence towards their parents; what led to it happening; the impact upon them and their families and how it was resolved.
  5. To understand how social care professionals conceptualise the issue and operationalise responses to it. (How they seek to intervene to prevent it, stop it and ameliorate the effects of it on both the child and parent.)
  6. To identify some of the policy and practice implications of child to parent violence for children’s social care and other key agencies.

The objectives will be met through the following research phases

  1. Review of literature on child to parent violence (Aims 1, 4 and 5).
  2. Review of ‘grey’ literature and policy on child to parent violence (Aims 2, 3, 6).
  3. Interrogate crime and social care data (Aims 1, 2, 3, 5).
  4. Interviews with older young people who have committed violence towards their parent in the past and are no longer doing so, drawing upon a range of digital and creative approaches to engaging young people (Aims 3 and 4).
  5. Interviews with social care professionals to establish their knowledge base and method and focus of interventions (Aims 5 and 6).
  6. Analysis and reporting (All aims).
  7. Dissemination & impact generation activities, including a policy briefing paper and seminar for social care professionals (Aim 6).

The proposed project builds on existing research within The Research Centre for Social Change: Community Wellbeing focusing on domestic abuse and safeguarding and offers pathways to impact from the Research Centre.

The research team will work with the student to co-author high quality journal articles (REF 2020).



Specific requirements of the project


  1. Master’s degree (with research component) (E)
  2. Good honours degree (or equivalent) in social care/work, psychology, sociology, or related discipline at 2:1 or above (E)

Skills and abilities

  1. Be self-disciplined and self-driven (E)
  2. Excellent communication skills with people from a range of backgrounds and ages (E)
  3. Excellent organisation and planning skills (E)
  4. Contemporary media communication skills (social and visual media) (D)


  1. A specific interest in effective interventions in child to parent violence (E).
  2. A specific interest in social care responses to Child to parent violence (D).
  3. Some knowledge, and/or a willingness to learn, creative, participatory, and innovative research methods (E).
  4. Knowledge of child to parent violence (D).
  5. Knowledge of key theoretical frameworks that inform child to parent violence (D).


  1. Experience of conducting research to Master’s level or equivalent (E).
  2. Skills and experience in some research methods (E).
  3. Experience of conducting literature reviews systematically (E).

The project start date is expected to be September 2017

Student eligibility

This scholarship is open to UK and EU students


Informal enquiries can be made to:

Cate Lawton,;

The supervisory team for this project will be Dr Marian Foley, Prof Sarah Galvani, and Prof Hugh McLaughlin. Specific queries regarding the research project will be forwarded to the supervisory team for response.

How to apply

Please quote the reference: VC-HPSC-SC-MF-2017 .

Applications should be completed using the Postgraduate Research Degree Application Form.

Application Form should be emailed to:


Closing date

Research Study