Child to Parent Violence and Abuse is any behaviour used by a young person to control, dominate or coerce parents/carers. It is intended to threaten and intimidate and puts family safety at risk. The violence is about a range of behaviours, including non-physical acts, aimed at achieving ongoing control over another person by instilling fear.
This problem of child to parent violence/abuse is complex and deeply impacts families, practitioners and the wider society. It is an emerging area of research and remains under reported as a strain of family violence. However, available statistics do indicate a worrying increase in reported incidents.
Practitioners working directly with families support these statistics with evidence from their increased caseloads. Research and experience suggest some causational trends to this increase include:
- With increasingly complex family and work arrangements often parental guilt means children are indulged more making it difficult for parents to later instil boundaries.
- Where children have witnessed family violence in some cases children may mimic the violence towards their mothers.
- Society increasingly challenges authority. As we learn from the past and move forward this questioning of authority is very positive but it does represent a shift in dynamics and less defined roles in parenting.
- Legally, parents can no longer physically punish children. However, parents who experienced physical punishment as children have not been trained in an alternative method of consequence, leaving some unsure about how to ‘discipline’ their children.
- Escalation habits. Children learn to escalate their behaviour in order to get their demands met.