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Child on parent violence in adoptive families; “The new kind of abuse”

A number of articles have been published in recent weeks commenting upon child on parent violence and how this appears to be a “new kind of abuse”. At Adoption Legal Centre this is something that we have been seeing for a number of years amongst our adoptive parents.

Hardly a week goes by without a conversation with at least one adoptive family on the struggles they are facing with violent behaviours shown by their teenage children. This is often a result of the early life trauma they were subjected to prior to their placement with their adoptive family. To these many families this is not a new form of abuse they are experiencing due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. This is something that these families have been experiencing for months or even years.

Some adoptive families are dealing with violent behaviours on a weekly, if not daily basis. This can include verbal abuse, threats of violence, damage to property, as well as actual physical violence towards their siblings or adoptive parents. On occasion this can lead to the Police being called to assist with the situation. This all has real impact upon all of the family, including the child displaying the violent behaviours.

At Adoption Legal Centre we try to support adoptive families who are experiencing abuse and advising them on the options available to them. This can include contacting the Local Authority to request support for the family. This could be by way of an assessment of need to consider what support the child and the parents need.

At other times it can lead to the adoptive parents requesting that their child is accommodated by the Local Authority. This can be for period of a few weeks respite, whilst in other circumstances it can be permanent. This is often a last resort for families who have been experiencing violent behaviours for some time. Sometimes it is the only option to keep themselves, the family and the child safe.

According to recent statistics there is an increase in violence displayed by children towards their parents. Here at the Adoption Legal Centre we do not think that this subject is discussed s not openly as it should be. We are often contacted by parents who think that they are alone in this situation. The reality is that they are not. There are many families out there who are experiencing the same kinds of behaviour and violence.

There are a number of support groups out there for adoptive parents who are subject to child on parent violence. We often encourage our clients to reach out to these groups to know that they are not alone and speak to families in similar situations. In the current climate this is more important than ever.

The current situation with Covid-19 could be making matters worse for some families. They do not have the support that they had a few weeks/months ago or the relief of the child attending school during the day as they normally would. Support agencies are not as readily available in the current restrictions. If they are, it is often remotely by video or telephone calls. Families are therefore feeling the real impact of self-isolating as a family unit.


Sarah Browm

Sarah Brown – Adoption Solicitor

Child on parent violence is something we take very seriously at the Adoption Legal Centre. If you are experiencing similar behaviours within the family home, then please do not hesitate to contact us on our freephone number 0800 8 60 62 65 to discuss further. We are here to help you.






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