It’s hard not to feel a sense of helplessness – as well as fury – when reading pieces such as this from the Orlando Sentinel last week. Reporter, Kate Santich, has put together a litany of examples of extreme violence from children towards their parents, but finds little in the way of help: thresholds for intervention not met, parents charged with abandonment, children locked up without attempts to investigate or change behaviour, and in a nation where therapeutic support must be paid for. She reports on the situation in the States, yet the examples could be from anywhere.
I am particularly struck by the focus on mental ill-health and distress in her examples, which is of course only one of several reasons behind children’s violence to parents. The need for mental health services and policing to work more closely together is a theme which I have been following of late in discussions on social media. (You can pick up some of the detail here, here or here.) When parents express their fears so clearly, we should not simply allow them, and their children, to be knocked from one agency to another like this while we wait to see where the ball will land.
Parent abuse as a name may be a new idea, for which budgets were not designed and will not stretch. Mental distress and threats of violence to self and others are not new. Budgets and responsibilities already exist for intervention in these situations and should be brought into play where appropriate.