Covid-19: Rise in kids attacking parents in UK lockdown | World News - Hindustan Times
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Covid-19: Rise in kids attacking parents in UK lockdown

Hindustan Times, London | By
Aug 20, 2020 01:02 AM IST

Caroline Miles of the University of Manchester noted that many children who are violent towards their parents have safeguarding needs of their own, having experience trauma of some kind themselves, and/or have mental health problems, learning difficulties, or additional needs.

A ‘pressure cooker’ environment in British homes during lockdown has seen a ‘significant’ rise in children and adolescents attacking parents in already volatile households, a new study by experts at the University of Oxford and Manchester said on Wednesday.

A commuter wearing a protective face mask crosses Westminster Bridge in view of the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben, in London, UK.(Bloomberg File Photo)
A commuter wearing a protective face mask crosses Westminster Bridge in view of the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben, in London, UK.(Bloomberg File Photo)

Parents told researchers that lockdown pressures had made the problem worse. Being confined at home with a young person was described by one parent as having a ‘cabin fever effect’, while another said lockdown had created a ‘pressure cooker’ environment.

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The police said more such incidents had been reported by parents during lockdown, but the study says parents suffering such violence are usually reluctant to call the police for fear of adverse consequences for the children and adolescents in police cells.

Rachel Condry, professor of criminology at Oxford, says: “Parents are often reluctant to report their child, fearing the consequences of criminalisation….and when they do seek help, it is often not forthcoming.”

“Violence can be serious and sustained. Parents describe living in fear of their own child, often for years. It can range from criminal damage in the home and verbal abuse to some of the most serious forms. One mother told us her son ‘beat me so badly that if the police did not come when they did, I would not be alive’.”

The situation has been compounded by school and college closures, lack of other services and increased expectations about engaging remotely and home schooling.

One parent told the research team, “Everything is amplified, there’s no escape, and it’s not just the person being hurt who’s affected, it’s everyone that sees and hears it. The other children are traumatised by seeing us hurt.”

Caroline Miles of the University of Manchester noted that many children who are violent towards their parents have safeguarding needs of their own, having experience trauma of some kind themselves, and/or have mental health problems, learning difficulties, or additional needs.

“These children are likely to have found the lockdown especially challenging and may have lost much of their external support network”, she adds.

The study called for increased planning and support from central government and local authorities, to prevent young people being criminalised and families being left to cope alone.

The study of 104 families, 47 social workers and several police forces took place between April and June 2020, involving an online survey with open-ended questions to ask parents who had experienced violence from a child aged 10-19 years.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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