The Daily Telegraph
16 April 2016
Thousands of parents are forced to call police every year to protect themselves from their own teenage children in what has been called our hidden domestic violence crisis.
Most of the victims are mothers so overcome with guilt they can suffer for years before calling for help, NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Fuller yesterday said.
Experts have blamed the crisis on the breakdown of community and family life.
“A lot of sociologists are saying the social fabric is not as strong as it has been in the past,” Jo Howard, an expert on violence against parents, said yesterday.
Assistant Commissioner Fuller said another factor was children living at home for longer.
He said parents abused by their children felt like failures and were ashamed to reach out for help.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveals an increase of 5.5 per cent a year for the past 10 years in the number of children and young people aged 10-17 being dealt with by police for domestic violence assaults.
“It is a concerning trend,” Assistant Commissioner Fuller, NSW Police corporate spokesman for domestic violence, said.
Latest figures reveal that in the 12 months to September 2015, 886 boys and young men were dealt with by police for parental abuse, at a rate of 239.5 per 100,000 young people aged 10-17.
In the same time, there were 487 girls and young women dealt with at a rate of 139.2 per 100,000.
The numbers could be much worse, with about half of domestic violence cases going unreported.
In 2006, the figure for males was 632, a rate of 170.3. For females it was 221, a rate of 62.7.
Karen Willis, executive officer of Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, said the issue was the “great unspoken problem”. “It’s hard enough to talk about domestic violence from a person you are married to or live with but if there is this gorgeous child you have raised and loved, to turn around and report them for domestic violence is very difficult,” she said.
“Everyone wants to protect their kids. This must be one of the saddest situations.”
Yet while the cases continue to mount up, Victoria is the only state that has directly addressed the problem.
It was specifically examined by the state’s royal commission into family violence and the government has funded three adolescent family violence programs.
Melbourne’s Kildonan UnitingCare created a position for the country’s first adolescent family violence worker two years ago, the organisation’s Jo Howard said yesterday.
“Parents feel enormous isolation and shame,’’ Ms Howard, Kildonan executive manager said.
“It’s not something they can talk about at the school gate. It is using violence to have control over their parents and hurting them.
“Often it is precipitated by the young person wanting the parent to do something for them, like drive them somewhere or buy consumer goods like an iPhone.
“It can range from verbal and emotional abuse to property damage if they smash walls and cars, and then serious physical violence.”
‘I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOSE IT’
Sam, 16, lives with his mother, Clare. He has started to come home very drunk. When his mother raises it with him he becomes verbally abusive. He has stolen money and smashed holes in the walls. Sam has told his mother: “I don’t know why I lose it. I know it’s not OK”. Yet, the violence continues.
HER HEAD HIT THE WALL
Jane, 15, lives with her mother, stepfather and two older sisters. She has experienced behavioural issues from a young age and Ann has been called to her school several times. The school has told Ann that Jane is close to being expelled. Jane recently pushed her mum who hit her head on the wall. She verbally abuses her sisters and has thrown a brick into her stepfather’s car windscreen.
Hasam, 15, lives with his mother, father, sister and two brothers.He has done well at school until the last six months. He demands money from his mother and threatens to run away. She thinks he is buying drugs. He has pushed her against the wall and raised his fist to her. He has also punched his younger siblings. His younger sister’s school notified child protection when she revealed significant bruising.
* Source: Kildonan Uniting Church