threatened by violent children


By CARLY UDY Frightened parents are taking out protection orders against their children after being threatened with knifes or assaulted as a new type of family violence escalates in the Bay.

Others are feeling suicidal and depressed trying to cope with children as young as seven who are physically violent towards them.

Local social agencies say sibling violence and kids being violent towards their parents are both issues “escalating” in the Bay.

Agencies say the problem is widespread, with doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers and business people all seeking help for their abusive children, who range in age from primary school age to young adults.


In the past two weeks, seven incidents of this type of violence have been referred to family support organisation Toughlove, by Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention Strategy (TMAPS). Examples include a 15-year-old holding a knife up to his mum and dad, then hitting them because he couldn’t get his own way.

In another case, a 14-year-old screamed at his parents and tipped over furniture when he wasn’t given money to top up his cellphone.

Tauranga police say they attend such incidents on a semi-regular basis and have prosecuted abusive children through both the Tauranga District and Youth Courts for it.

“Who does a parent turn to when your kid is threatening you with a weapon? You turn to the police and so you should,” Sergeant Jason Perry, former family violence co-ordinator, said.

“These are good parents and it’s a terrible position to be in, to have to call the police on your own children.”

Julia Silvester, community social worker for Toughlove, said the problem was widespread across all sectors of society.

Just last weekend, a 19-year-old from Tauranga was arrested after allegedly stabbing his mother’s boyfriend following a domestic incident.

And in August, a 19-year-old man from Tauranga admitted stabbing his 40-year-old mother multiple times with a paring knife because “she made him sick”.

Statistics show violent offending by teenagers nationwide has increased, and earlier this month the Bay of Plenty Times reported that local principals want more counsellors in primary schools because social issues at home were rubbing off on youngsters at an earlier age.

“There are parents with bruises on them because their children are kicking and punching them because they can’t get their own way, and there are seven-year-old’s being stood down from school,” Ms Silvester said.

“Someone was telling me they were in the supermarket the other day and overheard a three-year-old tell his mother `I’ll do what I like, you can’t smack me.’ This is a three-year-old,” she said.

“There are parents out there who are literally scared of their seven and eight-year-olds, they’re scared of what they’re going to do.”

And the problem is just as bad with older children. Toughlove heard about a brother and sister in their early 20s who were physically fighting at their mother’s home in Tauranga.

“Someone is going to get killed _ that’s the reality,” Ms Silvester said.

“It can start over the smallest things like fighting over the remote, money or a cellphone and it just escalates.

“They kick and punch each other, they’re not hospitalising each other but they’re assaulting each other. Before you know it, it’s World War 2.”

Jessica Trask, family violence co-ordinator for the Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention group, said half of all murders in New Zealand resulted from family violence.

“These are young people with no conflict resolution skills. There needs to be boundaries in place [from day one] and following through with the consequences. It’s good basic parenting. Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she said.

Les Simmonds, clinical director for Relationship Services in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, said just because a child was violent did not mean their parents were.

“Children have always challenged their parents. It’s a developmental thing but the violence isn’t,” he said.


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