Most parents never have to worry about being attacked by a violent child, but if it happens, they face a dilemma. They can’t just walk out – and they may fear that seeking help will have repercussions for their child. Research suggests the problem is often hidden, and far more common than we imagine.
In 2010, researchers at the University of Oxford carried out the first ever analysis of police data on child-to-parent violence, finding 1,900 offences recorded in London over a 12 month period.
Criminology professor Rachel Condry, who led the project, estimates that nationwide there are tens of thousands of cases each year, most of which go unrecorded.
“It’s such a hidden problem – there are just so many parents that don’t feel like they can report it to the police or don’t get any help or don’t find services,” she says.
Parents have often told her they experience years of violence before reporting their children, and only make the call when they are really in fear.
“They’re quite rightly really worried about criminalising the child and what the consequences might be,” she says.