'Potentially violent men?': Teenage boys, access to refuges and constructions of men, masculinity and violence

Helen Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the challenges of meeting the needs of teenage boys who become homeless as a result of domestic violence. In particular it focuses upon the impact of age limitation policies upon teenage boys, which many refuges still operate. It considers the reasons for these policies which, it is argued, still include reliance upon so-called 'cycle of violence' or 'intergenerational transmission of violence' theories. It is argued that such theories are problematic as they correlate being a man and being violent. Consequently, teenage boys of violent men are constructed as 'potentially violent'. The ways in which absent fathers are discursively constructed as responsible for any possible future violent, criminal behaviour of their sons is also problematised. Such assumptions which presume a casual effect between absent fathers and the future behaviour of teenage boys, are argued to be part of the reason why theories, such as the 'cycle of violence', persist. The article contends that there is a need for more adequate theorising of the relationship between men, boys and violence. It also argues that access to refuge service provision should be based solely on physical and economic resource constraints, and not by reference to such problematic theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-450
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jan 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Access
  • Constructions of masculinity
  • Domestic violence
  • Fatherhood
  • Fathers
  • Housing
  • Refuges
  • Teenage boys


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