Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy

From boys to men: precluding the proclivity to perpetrate


Principal Investiagtor: Ian Butler

Funder: ESRC

Duration: January 2011 - September 2013


Project rationale and aims

Departmental themes
Institute for Policy Research themes

Through a comparative analysis of attitudinal, self-report, discursive and narrative data, this research will provide;

  • a critical analysis of the circumstances that shape young men’s relationship to domestic abuse
  • key recommendations explaining what can be done to preclude the proclivity to perpetrate it.

The research builds on the applicants’ strong track records of research on domestic violence and masculinities (Professor David Gadd, Manchester University), children’s emotional wellbeing (Professor Ian Butler, Bath University), and school-based interventions (Dr Claire Fox, Keele University) and is supported by a multiagency steering group of practitioners engaged with specific projects that will facilitate access to participants and help the research team develop protocols to respond appropriately to child protection and safety issues ahead of the fieldwork.

Research objectives

The research will seek answers to the questions as to why some boys grow up to be domestic abuse perpetrators when others do not; and how can we change the attitudes and feelings that give rise to abusive tendencies among adolescents.


The research will answer these questions through a mixed methods study that examines:

  1. 1,200 secondary school children's attitudes to domestic violence. Using attitudinal and self-report measures we will also examine how these attitudes relate to children's direct experiences of violence as victims, witnesses to, and perpetrators of domestic abuse and dating violence.
  2. The contingencies through which domestic and dating violence are legitimized. Focus groups will be used to explore in what circumstances teenagers who might otherwise condemn violence are prepared to condone it.
  3. Young men's biographical accounts of experiencing, witnessing and/or perpetrating acts of dating or domestic violence.

Through a detailed analysis of each of these 3 datasets and their interrelations, the research will attempt to explain why some young men come to adopt pro-violence attitudes and others do not; the roles attitudes, emotional well-being, and experiences of both parent-child and intimate partner relationships play in this; and how to intervene more effectively in the lives of young people already manifesting violence proclivities.

Find out more about this project

Name: Prof Ian Butler
Title: Research Associate
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
E-mail: i.butler@bath.ac.uk