Family Lives (formally Parentline Plus) released an update to their 2010 report: ‘When Family Life Hurts: Family Experience of Aggression in Children’ in November this year. They demonstrate an increase in calls to their helpline regarding children’s aggressive behaviour, and are greatly concerned that only 56% reported having sought help with this.
In the press release, Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive of Family Lives says: “Family Lives’ updated report highlights that children’s violent and aggressive behaviour in the home is a hidden and stigmatised issue and we must all continue to support families to help change their child’s behaviour and ultimately improve life chances. There are many reasons that can explain why children behave in an aggressive way at home. Answers commonly include an inadequate approach to parenting, a lack of respect, sudden and unpredictable changes to the family routine, parental domestic violence or bullying at school, which causes the anger and hurt to spill out at home. Children or young people often feel that home is a safe place to vent ones feelings. Divorce and separation is considered to play its part in displays of aggressive child behaviour if co-parenting strategies are not discussed, agreed and implemented. Children can end up playing one parent off against another, or the non-resident parent may end up taking a back-seat with regards to discipline as they spend less time with the child. Whatever the reasons, children, parents, families and ultimately society will pay a huge cost if this growing area of concern is not addressed and parents must feel able to come forward to seek support without worrying about being judged.”
The report examines statistics around the calls, looking both at reasons for the calls and parents’ interpretations of the behaviour; and also documents attempts to obtain support. There is a call for government action in addressing the impacts of divorce in particular and in ensuring parents of teenagers are not sacrificed in the drive to support early years.