Open Consultation – Defining child to parent abuse – Home Office

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Consultation Description

Although we know that children can be vulnerable to harm by adults, there is also growing research into children displaying harmful behaviours towards parents/caregivers. There is no agreed definition for this type of harm or abuse, making it difficult to identify and talk about. In the absence of an agreed definition, various terms and descriptions are used.

The Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan committed to developing a sector agreed definition and updating the guidance for frontline professionals in line with it. For the purposes of this consultation document, the Home Office is using the term child to parent abuse (CPA) until terminology has been agreed.

The statutory definition of domestic abuse, as defined in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, concerns abuse between those who are personally connected and over the age of 16, with children being recognised as victims in their own right where they see, hear, or experience the effects of the abuse and they are related to either the abuser or the abused. For this reason, the definition of CPA will apply to those under 16, so as not to duplicate the definition of domestic abuse. Working Together to Safeguard Children is clear that all children (0-18) should receive a safeguarding response, including where they are causing harm to others and steps should be taken to understand the child’s behaviour. 

The key aims of an agreed definition are:

  • to establish a common language around CPA
  • to support identification by frontline professionals and parents and caregivers of this type of abuse, in order to make it easier to seek and offer support

This consultation seeks views on both the headline terminology for, and descriptors of, CPA which will together make up the definition. The definition will be agreed first then used as the basis for the guidance for frontline professionals which will follow. The guidance will provide an opportunity to provide further detail on the definition and consider some of the complex issues surrounding this type of abuse, for example the challenges faced by a child or their special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

This consultation will be open for 10 weeks, closing on 7 February 2024 at 23:55. You can reply via the online form or by emailing

The consultation is aimed at:

  • support services working in the field of CPA
  • academics with a research interest in CPA
  • specialist domestic abuse services
  • frontline professionals working in health, social care, education, policing, and youth offending
  • specialist services/ working with children with SEND
  • parents/family members/caregivers with experience of CPA
  • any other interested stakeholders, including those with experience of CPA and users of support and prevention services
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