New reports suggest that numerous families silently face the ire of violent teenagers even as many adolescents become overtly aggressive. Such children often physically abuse their parents, which includes frequent bashing and bullying. This shocking revelation was made through studies conducted in New South Wales and Victoria.
The studies suggest that adolescent sons usually direct physical and psychological attacks on their mothers.
According to a new Victorian report, domestic violence involving a person aged under 19 increased by 23 per cent between 2002 and 2006.
University of Western Sydney researchers recently found in a study that 51 per cent of women in NSW experienced some form of violence at the hands of their children.
The figures could be even higher because the shame and secrecy associated with child-parent violence prevented many mothers from reporting the abuse to authorities, said the researchers.
Jo Howard, a clinical family therapist who co-wrote the Melbourne report, said that mothers often suffered years of violence before calling the police or seeking other assistance.
She highlighted the fact that many parents were confused about whether their children's violence was normal teenage behavior.
"They would absolutely have to be at the end of their tether to call the police. A lot of parents don't even know they can call the police with these kinds of issues. It's absolutely the last step," smh.coma.au quoted her as saying.
Howard revealed that almost all sons in her study had experienced or witnessed abuse by their fathers or other men towards their mothers and sometimes themselves, and that most of them had learning and behavioral problems from an early age.
She also revealed that such sons would spit at their mothers or punch them, swear and call them names, threaten to use weapons like knives, steal money, break objects, and not allow them any privacy, even in the bathroom.
Mothers were most fearful of sons aged between 13 and 18, Howard said, adding that the younger the child when the behavior began, the longer it continued and the more severe the violence became.
She said that another scenario in which adolescent violence was increasingly common was where stressed parents working long hours overindulged children and failed to set boundaries.
"Parents are trying to compensate for not being available, (they) are generally wanting to give their kids the best. Then the kids just start to use quite bullying tactics and slowly over time they will start to up the ante until they are smashing things and becoming quite abusive," she said.
Lesley Wilkes, who oversaw the University of Western Sydney study, said that young and single mothers, who had low education or were in casual employment, were the most likely to suffer abuse from their children.
"Teenagers may swear at you once but they shouldn't be doing it every day [and] no teenager should hit their mother," Professor Wilkes said.