Parent Abuse on the Rise: A Historical Review

American Association of Behavioural Social Science Online Journal 2004

21/01/2005

In comparison to child and spouse abuse, the issue of parents being abused by their adolescent children has received very little attention by the mental health profession even though its prevalence is comparable. Parent abuse has been identified and addressed to some extent over the past twenty-five years: however, studies back in the 1950s were showing children’s physical abuse of parents to be a concern. The most frequent form of parent abuse is physical at 57%, followed by verbal abuse at 22%, the use of a weapon, usually a knife or gun, at 17% and throwing items at 5%. Regardless of gender 11% of children under age ten physically abuse their parents. This percent stays steady for boys over age ten, but drops to 7% for girls. In pertaining to the victims, 82% percent of parent abuse is against mothers, while only 18% is against fathers. This is to say that Mothers are five times more likely than fathers to experience severe physical abuse, and that the highest rate of parent abuse occurs in families with a single mother. This paper will review a brief history of parent abuse starting with Casare Lombroso and ending with present day studies. Many of the more prevalent studies, from which much of the present knowledge of parent abuse stems, will be discussed in detail.

“…the most important factor, is that these studies have shown parental permissiveness to play a major role in parent abuse. Many parents are still encouraged to take a lax, permissive approach to their parenting, which puts them at a higher risk for parent abuse, and their children at higher risk for delinquency.” READ MORE