Teen Violence Against Parents
The growing level of teen violence has shocked entire nations. Increasingly, the media reports are full of acts of violence committed by teenage perpetrators. While a majority of these acts are committed against peers and strangers, a growing body of evidence suggests that parents are targets for teen violence as well. Currently, there are few socially mandated solutions available for parents who are victimized by their children.
Experts have no way of knowing for sure how prevalent teen violence against parents truly is. A majority of parents do not report being abused by their children or teenagers due to feelings of embarrassment and shame . Parents fear that they will be labeled as bad, abusive, or neglectful if it becomes known they are abused by their own children. As stated by one expert, “[parental abuse] is one of the last remaining taboos. We are ready to pick up on violent behavior in children and adolescents if they are displaying it at school or on the streets, but violence…by children to parents remains hidden”.
According to the results of one study, approximately one-third of children between the ages of three and seventeen physically strike their parents each year. A number of mothers stated the violence began after the children witnessed violence between the parents. While hard numbers are hard to come by, in Sacramento County prosecutors handle approximately five parent abuse cases a week, and ten juveniles a week are incarcerated for commenting violent acts against their parents. Between 2002 and 2003 forty percent of the calls to Parentline Plus were from parents seeking help with their abusive children .
Two separate studies conducted in Ireland indicate parental abuse is rising at alarming rates. While one report studied adult children abusing their elderly parents, the other showed that the number of reported cases of children abusing their parents has doubled in recent years. The report identified drug and alcohol abuse as the number one reason for teen violence against parents .
The issue of teenagers abusing their parents gained recognition in the 1980s . During this decade increased recognition of the problem prompted family violence experts to give the phenomenon the name of battered parent syndrome. Experts labeled this form of family violence as the next form of abuse to be exposed. During the 1980s some experts warned teen violence against parents had reached epidemic proportions with some 2.5 million parents victimized each year in the United States alone. Further the researchers stated that approximately 900,000 of these parents suffered from severe forms of violence, many of which involved the use of a gun or other weapon .