Knowing my interest in parent abuse, people regularly inform me of clips or articles they have come across. I am often impressed by the thoughtfulness and awareness of some YouTube videos, but I also find myself frustrated and despairing at whole swathes of content. Where do I start?!
Today’s offering is not untypical. A Mum films her son and partner “fighting” for laughs. I hesitate to call it wrestling. I grew up with fond memories of wrestling my dad and brothers on the floor, but it was more about tickling and wriggling than the punches being thrown here. What messages are being given in these videos about the acceptability of violence – hitting your parents as a leisure activity! The blogosphere is similarly populated by parents amused by the “abusive” actions of toddlers (or occasionally disabled children); and Facebook is a rich mine of photos of teens with their Mum in a headlock. We have a community that accepts the notion of parent abuse – but as a joke.
The videos in particular seem to break down into 4 groups:
There is the serious content – news or educational clips and submitted films. These I applaud and support:
- Serious adverts made by young people – usually about child abuse, but setting it against the abuse of parents as a wake-up call.
- Adults making impassioned pleas to camera for help for themselves or friends
- Young child, or children, and parent filmed in a set-up scenario as the one above. (One of these recently was so aggressive that I reported it for child abuse.)
- Toddler punching or running full-tilt into unsuspecting adult – caught on film by chance
There is a view that the use of humour represents part of the journey to coming to terms with an event – for instance the 9/11 jokes that started coming out only a few days after the tragic events. Should we accept that this is the case here? That we are gradually working up, and waking up, to talking about child on parent violence? I do struggle to see how this fits such a scenario. Rather, the setting up, filming and posting of videos of children of any age punching, hitting and slapping their parents seems to represent our continuing reluctance to address the acceptance of violence within the family – teamed with a worrying desire for fame at any price.
Call me a party pooper, but LOL? Not.