SCIE Research briefing 25: Children’s and young people’s experiences of domestic violence involving adults in a parenting role

By Anne Worrall, Jane Boylan and Diane Roberts

Published June 2008


This briefing focuses on the experiences of children and young people (under the age of 18 years) of domestic violence between those adults who have, or previously held a parental role towards them. It includes both biological parents and non-related adults significant to the young people, but does not include the perpetration of violence by children and young people towards those in a parental role. While recognising the existence of a variety of models of the family, this briefing generally refers to currently or previously married or cohabiting adults, including lone, two-parent and step families.

The effectiveness of interventions is beyond the scope of this briefing which is concerned with the experiences of children and young people in the context of this type of inter-partner violence. In examining experiences and coping strategies, however, it also considers how the voices of children and young people are heard in research and practice, advocacy on their behalf, and evidence-based practice relating to work with children and young people affected by domestic violence. The briefing draws predominantly on British research, but refers to North American and Australasian research where relevant.


Key messages

  • Professional understanding of, and responses to domestic violence should be informed by the perspectives of children and young people.
  • Practitioners need to recognise that domestic violence may be a cause of a range of physical, emotional and behavioural difficulties for children and young people.
  • The complex relationship between domestic violence and safeguarding children requires respectful and sensitive handling.
  • Children and young people aware of domestic violence have the right to be listened to and need help to understand what is happening.
  • Some children and young people cope well despite their experiences of domestic violence.
  • Work with perpetrators, though controversial, is an important aspect of reducing domestic violence and its impact on children and young people.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following download you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Children's and young people's experiences of domestic violence involving adults in a parenting role