Child on parent violence is a “huge issue” in Ireland with calls to a national helpline surging nearly 50% last year.
Parentline has said it saw a 47% increase in calls from desperate parents last year – with 42% related to aggressive, angry or abusive children.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Parentline CEO Aileen Hickie said child-on-parent abuse is the “unspoken side of domestic violence”.
“This is not necessarily a 16-year-old young fella throwing his mother up against the fridge door every night of the week,” she said. “It can be that, but it can also be a number of other areas of abuse.
“It can be emotional abuse, verbal abuse, controlling behaviours, violence, manipulation – it can be a number of behaviours but ultimately, the key thing is that the parent here is afraid or in fear of their own child in their own home and struggling to deal with the conflict in their own home.”
Ms Hickie said more than 6,000 calls were made to the helpline last year – with the pandemic making parenting more than challenging than ever for many families.
She said many parents feel unable to talk to family and friends when dealing with abusive children.
“First of all, it brings a sense of shame and powerlessness and parents feel very much alone,” she said.
“It is not the type of thing they want to bring up at the next family function or with the neighbours next door or down at the school gate because, I think for a lot of parents, they struggle to talk about the shame they feel about their child’s behaviour – even though it’s not their fault.
“I suppose they feel a sense of shame as a parent and they do try and keep the situation a secret from family and friends. That is where Parentline comes in. We are confidential helpline and we operate on a one-to-one basis over the phone, which can be the key thing.”
She said Parentline is the only organisation in the country to offer the Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) programme on a one-to-one basis over the phone.
The number of parents who completed the programme jumped five-fold in 2020 to 222 and remained high last year at 187.
Ms Hickie said Parentline has tripled the number of volunteers it has available to deliver the programme – but warned the charity simply doesn’t have the funding to keep up with demand.
If you are affected by any of the topics discussed in this article, you can call Parentline on (01) 873 3500.
Lines are open Monday to Thursday 10am - 9pm and on Friday 10am - 4pm.
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