Exploring how children subjected to violence in the home cope with experiences in Secure Training Centres

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Background Violence in the home is recognised as a significant problem, with around 29.5 % of children subjected to violence in the home at some point in the United Kingdom (Radford et al., 2013). Children in custodial environments are a particularly vulnerable group in society (McAra & McVie, 2010), with 51 % of the children in Secure Training Centres subjected to violence in the home (Paterson-Young, 2018). Objective The purpose of this paper is to explore how children subjected to violence in the home cope with violence and experiences with restraint in Secure Training Centres. Participants and setting The research was conducted with children and staff in a Secure Training Centre that accommodates boys aged between 12 and 18 years-old in England. Methods Thematic analysis was used to analyse secondary data, originally collected by the author, from semi-structured interviews with children (N = 15) and staff (N = 15) in Secure Training Centres. It led to the identification of four themes: ‘Struggling to cope with abuse’, ‘Substance use as a coping mechanism’, ‘Disjointed service delivery’ and ‘Mirroring violence in the home through normalised restraint’. Results The findings illustrate that children in custodial environments who have experienced violence in the home are subjected to violent behaviour management techniques in custody, mirroring their experiences in the home. This normalised violence inhibits the development of positive coping mechanisms, relationships, and attitudes towards violence. Conclusions Enhancing our understanding of ‘what works’ in supporting children subjected to violence allows for the development of effective and sustainable services founded on collaboration, violence reduction, and trauma-informed practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105076
Number of pages35
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Early online date23 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Emotional regulation
  • Violence
  • Restraint
  • Custodial environments


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