Responding to adolescent family violence: Findings from an impact evaluation


Despite growing recognition of the prevalence of and harms associated with adolescent family violence, our knowledge of how best to respond remains underdeveloped.

This paper describes the findings from the outcome evaluation of the Adolescent Family Violence Program. The results show that the program had a positive impact on young people and their families, leading to improved parenting capacity and parent–adolescent attachment. However, there was mixed evidence of its impact on the prevalence, frequency and severity of violent behaviours.

The evaluation reaffirms the importance of dedicated responses for young people who use family violence, and the potential benefits, and limits, of community-based programs.


URLs correct as at February 2024

Ackard D, Eisenberg M & Neumark-Sztainer D 2007. Long-term impact of adolescent dating violence on the behavioural and psychological health of male and female youth. Journal of Pediatrics 151(5): 476–181

Agnew R & Huguley S 1989. Adolescent violence towards parents. Journal of Marriage and the Family 51(3): 699–711

Bobic N 2002. Adolescent violence towards parents: Myths and realities. Marrickville, NSW: Rosemount Youth & Family Services

Boxall H & Morgan A 2020. Repeat domestic and family violence among young people. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 591. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Calvete E, Orue I & Gámez-Guadix M 2012. Child-to-parent violence: Emotional and behavioral predictors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 28(4): 755–772

Coogan D 2011. Child-to-parent violence: Challenging perspectives on family violence. Child Care in Practice 17(4): 347–358

Correll JR 2004. Long-term effects of the Step Up Program on parent participants (Master’s thesis). University of Washington, USA.

Council of Australian Governments 2011. National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children: Including the first three-year action plan. Canberra: Department of Social Services

Crane CA & Easton CJ 2017. Integrated treatment options for male perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Drug and Alcohol Review 36(1): 24–33

Crime Statistics Agency (Victoria) 2019. Victoria Police July 2014 – June 2019. Melbourne: Crime Statistics Agency. 

Day A et al. 2010. Integrated responses to domestic violence: Legally mandated intervention to programs for male perpetrators. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 404 Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Day S & Bazemore G 2011. Two generations at risk: Child welfare, institutional boundaries, and family violence in grandparent homes. Child Welfare 90(4): 99–116

Department of Human Services (Victoria) 2012. Best interests case practice model: Summary guide. Melbourne: Department of Human Services.

Department of Justice (Victoria) 2012. Measuring family violence in Victoria: Victorian Family Violence Database Volume 5: Eleven year trend analysis: 1999–2010. Melbourne: Department of Justice.

Easton C, Swan S & Sinha R 2000. Motivation to change substance use among offenders of domestic violence. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 19(1): 1–5

Eckstein N 2004. Emergent issues in families experiencing adolescent-to-parent abuse. Western Journal of Communication 68(4): 365–389

Edenborough M, Jackson D, Mannix J & Wilkes LM 2008. Living in the red zone: The experience of child-to-mother violence. Child & Family Social Work 13(4): 464–473

Fitz-Gibbon K, Elliott K & Maher J 2018. Investigating adolescent family violence in Victoria: Understanding experiences and practitioner perspectives. Melbourne: Monash University

Foshee V, Ennett S, Bauman K, Benefield T & Suchindran C 2005. The association between family violence and adolescent dating violence onset: Does it vary by race, socioeconomic status, and family structure? Journal of Early Adolescence 25(3): 317–344

Freeman K 2018. Domestic and family violence by juvenile offenders: Offender, victim and incident characteristics. Bureau Brief no. 136. Sydney: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Gallagher E 2004. Parents victimised by their children. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 25(1): 1–12

Hawkins JD et al. 2000. Predictors of youth violence. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Hong JS, Kral MJ, Espelage DL & Allen-Meares P 2012. The social ecology of adolescent-initiated parent abuse: A review of the literature. Child Psychiatry & Human Development 43(3): 431–454

KPMG 2016. The cost of violence against women and their children in Australia. Canberra: Department of Social Services.

Lawrence C, Carlson E & Egeland B 2006. The impact of foster care on development. Development & Psychology 1(1): 57–76

Matjasko JL et al. 2012. A systematic meta-review of evaluations of youth violence prevention programs: Common and divergent findings from 25 years of meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Aggression and Violent Behaviour 17: 540–552

Miller JM, Dilorio C & Dudley W 2002. Parenting style and adolescent’s reaction to conflict: Is there a relationship? Journal of Adolescent Health 31(6): 463–468

Moulds L, Day A, Mildred H, Miller P & Casey S 2016. Adolescent violence towards parents: The known and unknowns. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 37(4): 547–557

Moulds L, Mayshak R, Mildred H, Day A & Miller P 2019. Adolescent family violence towards parents: A case of specialisation? Youth Justice 19(3): 206–221

Noland VJ et al. 2004. Is adolescent sibling violence a precursor to college dating violence? American Journal of Health Behaviour 28(1): S13–S23

No to Violence 2012. Adolescent family violence in the home: Mapping the Australian and international service system. Melbourne: No to Violence

Pagani L et al. 2004. Risk factor models for adolescent verbal and physical aggression toward mothers. International Journal of Behavioral Development 28(6): 528–537

Paulson MJ, Coombs RH & Landsverk J 1990. Youth who physically assault their parents. Journal of Family Violence 5(2): 121–133

Pecora P et al. 2006. Educational and employment outcomes of adults placed in foster care: Results from the Northwestern Foster Care Alumni Study. Children and Youth Services 28(12): 1459–1481

Routt G & Anderson L 2011. Adolescent violence towards parents. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 20(1): 1–19

Rubin DM et al. 2008. Impact of kinship care on behavioral well-being for children in out-of-home care. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 162: 550–556

Savvas E & Jeronimus A 2017. Troubled teens: Adolescent family violence requires a unique legal and service system response. Law Institute Journal, April: p. 43.

Schaffer M, Clark S & Jeglic EL 2008. The role of empathy and parenting style in the development of antisocial behaviors. Crime & Delinquency 55(4): 586-599

Sentencing Advisory Council (Victoria) 2017. Swift, certain and fair approaches to sentencing family violence offenders: Report. Melbourne: Sentencing Advisory Council.

Simmons M, McEwan T, Purcell R & Ogloff J 2018. Sixty years of child-to-parent abuse research: What we know and where to go. Aggression and Violent Behavior 38: 31–52

State of Victoria 2016. Royal Commission into Family Violence: Summary and recommendations. Melbourne: Victorian Government.

Steinberg L 2005. Cognitive and affect development in adolescence. Trends in Cognitive Science 9(2): 69–74

Tabachnick BG & Fidell LS 2001. Using multivariate statistics, 4th ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon

Ulman A & Straus MA 2003. Violence by children against mothers in relation to violence between parents and corporal punishment by parents. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 34(1): 41–60

Vagi KJ et al. 2013. Beyond correlates: A review of risk and protective factors for adolescent dating violence perpetration. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 42:633–649

Walsh JA & Krienert JL 2007. Child–parent violence: An empirical analysis of offender, victim, and event characteristics in a national sample of reported incidents. Journal of Family Violence 22(7): 563–574

Weinblatt U & Omer H 2008. Nonviolent resistance: A treatment for parents of children with acute behavior problems. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 34(1): 75–92

Wilson I, Graham K & Taft A 2014. Alcohol interventions, alcohol policy and intimate partner violence: A systematic review. BMC Public Health 14: 881.

Zlotnick C, Tam T & Soman L 2012. Life course outcomes on mental and physical health: The impact of foster care on adulthood. American Journal of Public Health 102(3): 534–540