Mother Abuse: A Matter of Youth Justice, Child Welfare or Domestic Violence?

C. Hunter, J. Nixon, S. Parr

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International evidence suggests that in advanced welfare states the abuse of parents, most particularly mothers, by their (most frequently male) adolescent children is increasingly prevalent. In the United Kingdom, however, child-to-mother abuse remains one of the most under-acknowledged and under-researched forms of family violence. Although it is an issue shrouded in silence, stigma, and shame, the authors' work in the youth justice sphere, focusing on interventions to deal with anti-social behaviour, suggests that adolescent violence toward mothers is a topical and prevalent issue. We identify different ways of conceptualizing it in the policy realms of youth justice, child welfare, and domestic violence. The behaviour of both child/young person and mother is constructed in ways which inform the assignment of blame and responsibility. The paper highlights the silence that surrounds the issue in both the policy and wider academic spheres, hiding the failure of service providers to respond to this very destructive form of intimate interpersonal violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-284
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number2
Early online date10 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010



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