Phone-in targets rising adolescent violence

Violent physical and verbal attacks at the hands of adolescents are becoming an increasing problem for many Australian families, a Flinders University researcher has found.

Previous survey results collected by Legal Studies Lecturer Mary McKenna over the past year indicate violent attacks on mothers, siblings and pets, as well as property damage including smashed windows and broken possessions, are on the rise in children aged six to 25.

“Through the study family counsellors revealed they are seeing an increasing number of families grappling with child and adolescent family violence at home,” Ms McKenna said.

“More and more parents and carers of adolescents engaged in antisocial and illegal behaviour and violence at home are seeking assistance from a range of support agencies, but few are receiving the level of support they need,” she said.

In an attempt to highlight the seriousness of child and adolescent family violence in Australia and to identify the extent of the problem in South Australia, Ms McKenna conducted a phone-in for parents and carers of children and adolescents behaving badly at home at the Women’s Information Service in Adelaide.

The aim of the phone exercise was to first identify the gaps in services and supports offered to parents and carers, and then target techniques and mechanisms the families would find most useful in providing the support they need.

“Previous research has indicated that of the parents who had sought support for adolescent family violence in the past, almost two thirds said they did not get the support they needed from professionals which is unacceptable” Ms McKenna said.

“Then there is the issue of finding the right avenue of support as all families are different and may not be suited to the options that are currently available to them. This exercise will help us to properly identify the range of needs in this area, whether it be practical advice or assistance to develop strategies within the home, we are aiming to gain as much insight as we can.”

Ms McKenna said the data gathered during the phone-in would also be used to lobby various agencies to provide adequate family supports as well as provide information that will be used as a precursor to development of policy in the areas of Federal, State and Local government and Non-Government organisation.

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