Young people who are violent towards their parents in the UK

  • Alexandra Papamichail

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This qualitative study explores a form of family violence, namely, young people‘s violent
    behaviour toward their parents. The aim is to fill a gap in the literature by giving voice to
    young people whose voices have been marginalised, as well as to psychologists and
    psychotherapists who work with them in the UK. The key areas of interest concern the
    familial relationships and contexts within which young people are embedded, their
    psychological states and how these are linked with violent behaviour. The conceptual
    framework underlying this study is that of relational developmental systems, and the work
    draws on theories of attachment, developmental trauma and family-systems. This work
    emerges from a practitioner-researcher perspective within the disciplinary area of
    developmental psychology and psychopathology.
    Participant-observation and interviews were conducted with eight young people from two
    different intervention programmes aiming to tackle violence against parents. In addition,
    semi-structured interviews were conducted with five psychologists and/or
    psychotherapists. All data were analysed from a critical realist perspective using
    inductive, thematic analysis.
    A number of key findings from the thematic analysis emerged. These include adverse
    childhood experiences, disrupted attachments, lack of mentalization skills and emotional
    dysregulation, dysfunctional family-systems, bi-drectional violence and a continuum of
    violent behaviour toward siblings and schoolmates among others. This study shows that
    current overarching conceptual frameworks in the field rely heavily on Duluth‘s feminist
    model of adult domestic violence, demonstrating links between literature, policy and
    practice. The contribution of this work is to highlight problems in applying the Duluth
    framework to children‘s violence, and to suggest a new synthesis informed by tailored
    interventions, attachment and trauma theory, upon which evidence-based interventions
    may be based.
    Date of AwardAug 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorDiane Waller (Supervisor)

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