Many people are now aware of domestic abuse, thanks to a number of successful campaigns over the last few years. But do we have a good picture of all different kinds of domestic violence, or do we automatically think of women suffering at the hands of their partners and parents abusing their children?
It may surprise some people, but parents can be targets of domestic abuse too, becoming victims to their own children. It’s a growing reality for many families, with more and more kids becoming increasingly violent towards their parents.
According to WA Police, one in five of all police call outs for domestic violence in Perth’s northern suburbs are related to kids attacking their parents. It’s difficult to confidently say how this issue affects Australian families across the country, because WA Police are the only district to keep records on children’s violence towards parents. But the 24-hour Parenting WA helpline has reported a 60 percent increase in calls in just three years; while Joondalup’s Patricia Giles Centre (which offers free support and counselling to women and children) has found that a third of all cases being referred to them by the police now involves kids abusing their parents. The growing problem mostly involves young boys, some only 10 years old.
Although child violence is often swept under the carpet, the problem is far more common than most people think. It also has significant consequences. Children who are violent towards their parents are extremely likely to display anti-social behaviour when they’re adults. We are seeing a generation of young Australians who solve their problems with violence and have not learnt how to treat other human beings with respect and decency.
What’s causing the rise in the number of kids abusing their parents? We don’t know. It’s easy to blame social factors such as abuse or poverty, but many of these violent children come from normal, stable families. Some experts are blaming it on violent television or computer games, others are pointing the finger at bullying or disassociation caused by the internet.
What we do know is that this is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. If you or someone you know is dealing with a violent family member, seek help.