Anderson Cooper used his CNN TV show on January 25th to discuss this question, with mothers experiencing abuse from their children who had done just that. Dr. Karen Binder-Brynes (described as a leading psychologist) offered her opinion, a police officer gave his side of the story, and of course the studio audience had their own questions and comments. The clips give a sense of the utter desperation of some parents, one of whom then found herself charged with child abuse as her daughter counter claimed against her. Anderson attempts to draw out the different emotions at play in these situations; and one of the parents breaks down as she details her frustration at the lack of response over considerable time when she called for help from social services.
It is a shame that the psychologist, while saying “I completely understand how you could feel so out of control”, really does not seem to hear the parent’s voice and continues to tell her that there is help available for people in her situation. She gives a series of questions to ask before calling the police, and advocates only calling them if someone is at risk of real harm. Yet this seems to be the very situation these parents are describing.
In the short clip available, the police officer is asked about being called out for what are depicted as minor issues and a waste of police time. The audience can be heard laughing, but we are not able to see how this discussion progressed. For these parents, not being able to get their children out of bed for school may well have been just one element of a much bigger picture.
The comments on the website continue the discussion as contributors give details of their own experiences of abusive teens, and their own struggles to access advice and support.
For further debate about this, see also my blog dated September 8th 2011 and comments, and links to information about the Step-up model of intervention in my August 10th 2011 post.