Shocking new figures have just been released showing a dramatic rise in calls from parents experiencing aggression and violence from teenage children in homes in the Western Health Trust area.
The figures, from Parenting NI, indicate a 30% increase in calls from parents in the western area calling their helpline because of teen rage issues during 2011/2012, compared with the previous year.
Parenting NI has outreach facilities in Derry, offering parents one-on-one support.
Charlene Brooks, Director for Parents Helpline, a project within Parenting NI, expressed concern, saying it was a “worrying trend”.
“Parents call the Parents Helpline for a variety of reasons - they are often worried about their child’s behaviour or family tensions, but recognise the importance of taking steps to get help for the situation. “Through our Parenting Education Programmes we have also experienced an increase in parents telling us about ‘behavioural issues’ they are experiencing at home and many will eventually disclose that their teenage child is violent towards them. Understandably many parents are ashamed to admit that their child is aggressive or violent towards them and parents often don’t know where to turn for support.”
The overall picture for Northern Ireland shows an increase of 27% of parents calling the Parents Helpline about teenage aggression but the Western Health Trust area outweighs this figure at 30%. Parenting NI research shows that the problem is more prevalent amongst teenage boys, with two thirds of calls to the Parents Helpline about aggression being from parents concerned about their teenage sons.
Charlene Brooks continued: “Teenage aggression can often stem from other underlying problems such as family stress, mental health, separation and divorce or addiction and substance abuse. When parents call the Parents Helpline, we try to get to the root of the problem in order to help parents find a way to ease tensions at home. It is usually of more benefit if parents will also come along to an appointment or attend a Parenting Education Programme.
“Violence in any form is unacceptable. Like adults, children and young people need to be helped to find alternative ways of dealing with their anger.
“Parenting NI staff are currently undergoing specific training in ‘Non Violent Resistance’ techniques so that they can train parents in how to deal with violence and aggression at home. This is proving very beneficial and aims to equip parents with vital skills so that they can take control of tense situations at home to avoid physical or verbal abuse.”
Research from 2009 on teenage aggression suggests that 18% of two parent families and 29% of one parent families experience teenage aggression or violence towards parents.
Parenting NI offers support to parents through the Parents Helpline (0800 8010 722), by appointment at 11 outreach sites across Northern Ireland and through Parenting Education Programmes (for details visit www.parentingni.org).