One in ten calls to helpline from parents abused by violent teens

PARENTS are becoming victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their teenage children, according to new figures.

About one in ten calls to ParentLine Scotland in the past year have been from parents at the wrong end of violent outbursts from teenagers in their own homes, according to figures released by the charity Children 1st.

One in ten (261 out of 2,350 calls) made to the helpline for parents involved the aggression of their teenage children. In half of these cases the teenagers hit their parents, while 35 were reporting aggression towards siblings. Some 108 calls were made after the teenagers inflicted damage to the home such as punching holes in walls or kicking over tables.

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Children 1st's communication manager Lorraine Gray said: "Parents have described feelings of being out of control and at the end of their tether because of their children's physical aggression towards themselves, siblings and other family members."

One Parent Families Scotland's helpline also registers calls from parents distraught over aggressive teenage family members.

Chief executive Sue Maxwell said: "We get a steady trickle of calls from the parents of teenagers who are physically or seriously verbally abusive towards them. Angry at being disciplined by their parents, they have pushed and shoved them, threatened them or knocked holes in walls."

Police reports of domestic abuse, mostly common assault, carried out by under 18-year-olds, have risen by 42 per cent in the last eight years according to the latest Scottish Government figures.

The rate of 1,340 cases for the year 08/09 represents a 12 per cent rise over the previous year – a third higher than the rise for the population as a whole (at 8 per cent).

A National Family Violence Survey of 8,145 families in the US has also found that in one in ten 15 to 17-year-olds had assaulted a parent, and in 35 out of 1,000 cases the assault was rated as being "severely violent" in a one year period. Violence towards siblings, including kicking, shoving, punching, biting, choking and attacks with knives and guns, was also common.

Ian Stephen, a chartered forensic psychologist, said: "The Scottish figures are the tip of the iceberg. Domestic violence from teenagers is becoming more common. They have a tremendously omnipotent role in the home. Very often they will have seen their father behave towards their mother in an aggressive way and they follow suit. But parents don't want to admit that their child has become a dominant member of the family until it is too late."

Professor Lynn Jamieson, professor in Sociology at Edinburgh University's Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, said: "Violence has become normalised and part of the family experience. Parents who have been frightened by being hit by their teenage child have often had no other recourse for assistance but to phone the police. The child will be sad and sorry and everyone traumatised."

According to Labour Market Survey UK figures published last week, 29,000 – or a third of 16 to 17-year-olds are looking for work – an 87.7 per cent increase over the same time last year. A fifth of all 16 to 24-year-olds are also looking for work.

"In the current climate the problem is getting worse," said Ms Maxwell.