Don’t hurt me, baby

By Chen Ximeng Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-8 20:43:01

How to deal with child-to-parent aggression

Experts say people should be aware of the possibility of domestic violence against parents from their children. Photo: Li Hao/GT

"My son hits me with his little fists and throws things at me when he gets angry or feels sleepy," said 36-year-old stay-at-home mother Lily Li from Shanghai.

Li has tried telling her 3-year-old son that hitting people is wrong and causes pain, but her scolding rarely seems to work. Those like Li facing child-to-parent violence, or parent abuse, are anxiously searching for answers as to how to deal with this underreported form of domestic violence.

A serial documentary made in the UK called My Violent Children, featuring families suffering from child-to-parent violence, is trying to draw more attention to the issue. In its new series this year, which started broadcasting on March 4, the focus is on a 47-year-old single mother from Southampton, who was reportedly attacked daily by her three children, two 9-year-old twin daughters and one 11-year-old son.

A March 2 article in the Daily Mail reported the mother, Pauline Bubb, was attacked up to 30 times a day by one of her daughters.

"I was inconsistent. I had no boundaries and had lost my parental control," Bubb said in the article, explaining that her children's aggression had most likely stemmed from the lack of rules in her household.

Bubb's story triggered widespread attention on Chinese social media, sparking discussion surrounding how to deal with a child's aggression toward their parents.

In recent years, China has also seen several cases of child-to-parent violence that has caused public anger. A young girl repeatedly slapped her mother on the street in Hebei Province because her mother did not give her the money she wanted, according to Hebei Province-based Yanzhao Metropolis Daily report published in May 2013. In another report from Xinhua News Agency in 2013, a 15-year-old boy beat his mother with a mop after she refused to give him cash.

Psychologists interviewed by Metropolitan said parents who spoil their children face a greater risk of being abused by their children. To combat this, parents should set up firm boundaries and rules for their kids.

Wei Zhizhong, a research fellow at the Modern Psychology Research Center at Wuhan University, told Metropolitan that he has dealt with a few cases of child-to-parent violence in his counseling work.

"Unlike adults, children are more aggressive in bullying the weak and fearing the strong because their moral self has not been established yet," Wei said. "When a child cannot get something he or she wants, he or she will blame the parents and take out the anger on them, knowing that the parents will not hurt their own child even if he or she has gone too far."

Wei said that when parents are faced with this problem, they should give a timely, positive response to help their child manage angry emotions by consoling their child with hugs and kind words.

Wei also pointed out that as in the case of Bubb, parents should not easily concede to their child's demands and if the answer is "no," then they should stick to it.

"If you indulge them when they ask too much, they will become insatiable with their abuse," Wei said. "What parents should do is discipline them immediately."

If the children's violence causes a lot of damage or becomes out of control, parents should turn to psychological counseling or social organizations for help, Wei said.

Another option for when things get out of hand is to call the police or take legal measures, said Liao Zhengang, a lawyer with the Fucheng Law Firm in Beijing.

The Daily Mail report said that with the number of cases of child-to-parent abuse in the UK rising steadily, 118 boys and girls under the age of 14 were prosecuted for domestic abuse in 2012 and 2013. However, in China, according to Liao, only children aged 14 and up can bear criminal responsibility for the crime of intentional injury.

As the draft of China's first law against domestic violence has been published to solicit opinions this year, there's still a lack of specialized legislation to protect parents from violence from their children, and there should be, Liao said.

"As more and more such cases catch the attention from the public, related laws and regulations will be set up to protect the rights of affected parents," he said.

Posted in: Intel

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