When Rosemary Pate was killed by her son in Florida in 2013, family and friends began a campaign to raise awareness of this form of violence within the family and to provide better protection for families affected. Significantly the campaign included not only pressure for treatment and counselling, but also moves to introduce legislation. Breaking the Cycle Consulting (BTC), a Florida based program, has been ideally placed to develop such services and has recently been working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) to inform the development of legislation.
Laurie Reid, President and Founder of Breaking the Cycle Consulting, contacted me to ask if she could explain about the research and the work the organisation has undertaken with more than 400 families.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to discuss child to parent violence, and to also discuss my recent research collaboration with Bonnie Yegidis at The University of Central Florida,” says Reid. According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, last year over 6,000 youth were arrested in the State of Florida for a domestic violence assault or battery charge. “This number is astronomical!” As a licensed clinician with over 18 years of experience serving families and teens, Reid believes that parenting is no easy task, and parenting an angry, aggressive or even violent child, may be 100 times more challenging.
The UCF study, in partnership with Breaking the Cycle Consulting, was recently performed to assist and inform Florida lawmakers about child to parent violence for legislation that will be considered in the upcoming Florida legislative session. The proposed legislation, by Senator Geraldine Thompson, will define parental abuse and separately categorise it within domestic violence. This bill will not only include physical abuse, but will also encompass the use of intimidation, financial abuse, and various threats made to parents by their adolescent child.
Parents who have attended Breaking the Cycle’s ten week family program are being interviewed by UCF researchers on their experiences of child to parent violence with their adolescent child. An important aspect of the study will be to see if the parents contacted law enforcement and if there was any intervention.
Reid says, “I look forward to the outcome of this research study and the proposed bill on child to parent violence to become law, as I believe this will spark continued research on this subject within other universities. Child to Parent violence is not isolated to Florida.”
Breaking the Cycle Consulting emphasises the need for physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both the parent and child. Under Reid’s direction, they have served more than 400 families, collaborated with two universities for research into adolescent to parent aggression and violence, and presented at numerous national and state level conferences on the subject.
It will be good to hear more about the findings of this research in the future when the study is completed. As always, I am grateful to Laurie for contacting me to share about her work. If anyone else would like to talk about what they are involved in in this field, please do get in touch.