Parent abuse roulette

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 herehere 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.


Filed under Discussion, news reports

3 responses to “Parent abuse roulette

  1. Hello.
    The parent abuse is not a new social problem, but yes some of its manifestations and contexts in which they occur.

    For me there is not doubt: Any answer to this problem will need therapy in any of its moments:

    – Parent abuse in a situation of drug addiction ….. (addiction as a source of violence).
    – Parent abuse in mental illness … (mental illness and its effects as a source of violence).
    -Parent abuse in “normal families” but where the relational dynamics generate a symptom: child to parent violence.

    In all types the answer must include therapeutic approach (specializing in addiction, mental illness or in family therapy ….. or several working together).

    A country that gives back to the family problemas and does not facilitate social and free answers to these problems, will have will have serious problems in their development.

    José Alberto Llamazares Rojo
    Centro Hobetzen (Asociación Educativa Berriztu /DFB)

    • You make an important point here which we should always remember, that it is not enough to treat the symptoms but also look at the roots of a problem. Stopping abuse as a single approach will not succeed in the longterm without addressing underlying issues. Similarly therapeutic work on issues linked with abuse – such as drug use or mental health problems – must be accompanied by work on the abusive behaviour itself, in which young people are engaging.
      Thank you, Jose, for your ongoing interest in these issues and your support of this website.

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