Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Child-to-Parent Violence Common in Court Records

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Child-to-Parent Violence Common in Court Records

Article excerpt


BOSTON - Family violence is not limited to spousal or child abuse: Adolescents and preteens are also capable of violent, destructive behavior against family members, said an Australian investigator at the meeting.

Nearly half of all restraining-order applications from a large children's court in Australia were related to child-to-parent violence, reported Gennady Baksheev, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Most of the violence was related to long-standing behavioral problems, with the perpetrators primarily being males and the victims primarily females. In a majority (58%) of the cases, the violent episodes occurred in single-parent households.

"Family violence perpetrated by children against their parents or siblings has received little attention, although it is increasingly being recognized as a serious problem for social services, law enforcement, and the courts," Mr. Baksheev said.

The medical literature has consistently shown that the "battered parent syndrome" is most frequently perpetrated by boys against their mothers, and that boys are more likely to engage in physically abusive behaviors, whereas girls are more likely to be emotionally or verbally abusive, he said.

Estimates of the prevalence of child-to-parent violence range from 7% to 56%, with differences in research methods and definitions accounting for the discrepancy. Explanations for this type of behavior include disturbances in family hierarchy, parents with harsh or punitive control strategies, familial conflict (including witnessing and modeling of parental violence), and psychiatric and/or behavioral disturbances among juveniles, Mr. Baksheev noted.

He and his colleagues conducted a retrospective audit of consecutive court records from the Melbourne Children's Court, looking for applications for restraining orders against juvenile defendants.

The records included the characteristics of the victims and perpetrators, the nature of the behavior the precipitants of the perpetrators' behavior.

In all, 438 of the 928 applications filed during the study period met the criteria for juvenile family violence. Half of the applications (50%) were filed by the primary victim; most of the remaining half (49. …

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