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Parents scared to report their violent children

TERRIFIED parents are afraid to report violence against them -- by their own sons and daughters.

There has been a steady increase of reports of child/parent abuse in recent months, a conference has heard.

Barbara McAllister, manager of Bray Women's Refuge Centre, said they had noted an increase of elderly people seeking help over the past two years.

"In particular, we have noticed increasing reports of violence perpetrated by offspring against parents," she said.

Much of this type of abuse "remains hidden" as parents are afraid to seek help, she said.

"They feel guilty, they feel it is their fault and are afraid of social isolation," Ms McAllister said. "But they must report it or it will get worse.

"Like any form of domestic violence, parent abuse is about power and control," she said.

"Parents need to get their control back. They need to talk to counsellors, to the gardai.

"Remember a parent's role is to be a parent, not a best friend. Children need structure and boundaries."

Hidden

Conference speaker Declan Coogan, a lecturer in Political Science & Sociology at NUI Galway, said child/parent abuse is an emerging issue in Ireland.

"It's a hidden form of family violence that is not recognised in policy or practice guidelines on working with families or on interventions relating to domestic violence and abuse," he said.

"The abuse can be psychological, physical and/or financial and can involve attempts by the child to dominate, coerce or control parents and often other members of the family.

"Parent abuse or child to parent violence is defined as a harmful act of a child aged between 10 and 18 years intended to gain control over parents or family members," Mr Coogan said.

"It is not recorded currently in Ireland or the UK as it is difficult to give accurate figures on its prevalence," he added.

"It's not possible to say whether the rates of occurrence are rising but what experts can confidently say is that is being reported and discussed more."

For parents in need of support, Parentline can be contacted on 1890 927 277.

mlavery@herald.ie


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