40% Child/Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) Unreported

woman in blue shirt talking to a young man in white shirt

MORE THAN 40% of Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) is never reported to the authorities according to a study commissioned by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit.

What is Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA)?

Child/adolescent to parent violence and abuse CAPVA) is a term used to described acts of violence perpetrated by minor-, adolescent-, and adult children against their parents or caregivers.

Violence is any act that uses fear, intimidation, threats and/or harm to cause someone to do something against their will, or prevent them from doing something they want to. Violence can be physical and psychological.

Jane Griffiths of Capa First Response CiC explains how it might show up, “For many families it is their children that are using violent and abusive behavior in the home directed at parents or caregivers. Spitting, hitting, name calling, destroying property, threats of violence […] causing parents to ‘tread on eggshells.” 

What does child-to-parent look like?

According to the study, 89% of the recorded incidents show that CAPVA shows up as:

The study also found that 81% of the perpetrators of child-to-parent violence were adolescent boys acting out against their mothers with physical violence.

Fear of stigma stops parents from reporting

The study looked at pre-pandemic data from 2011 to 2020 and found that 40% of the parents and caregivers experiencing CAPVA did not report because they encountered stigma when they reached out for help.

“Parents feel huge shame around this behaviour; they feel judged and blamed for how their child behaves towards them.” explains Jane Griffiths, “It is a hugely isolating issue, with parents feeling unable to talk about what is happening or seek support.” 

Parents and caregivers in this situation require specialized support, which is available through organizations like the PEGS – Parental Education Growth Support program.

How does the UK plan to address the issue?

CAPVA occurs in approximately 1 in 10 British families and experts say the number increased during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London has suggested taking a multi-agency ‘joined-up approach’ to reducing child/adolescent-to-parent abuse.

He explained that the underlying causes for the aggression were often undiagnosed mental health issues, unidentified disabilities, and unidentified special educational needs. Perpetrators of CAPVA may also be acting out in response to trauma such as exposure to domestic violence and others harms.

For in-depth analysis of this report, read How Coercive Control Perpetuates The Cycle of Violence in Families.


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Manya Wakefield is an educator and recovery coach specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma. She is also the author of 'Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?' and host of the Narcissistic Abuse Rehab Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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