Problematising Adolescent Violence: Violence against Parents in Ageing Society

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PinniB 1096, address: Kanslerinrinne 1.


Institute for Advanced Social Research IASR

A lecture given by Senior Researcher Marianna Muravyeva (IASR)

The lecture is open to all free of charge. Welcome!

Violence against parents, understood as any act by children that intimidates the parents and is aimed at hurting them, is a phenomenon that has become high profile in recent years. Data from Europe, the USA and Canada reveal that between 7 and 18% of parents have been victims of physical violence from their adolescent and adult children at some time, a figure that rises to 29% in the case of single parents.

The previous research also indicated that the majority of aggressors are males aged between 10 and 18, who attack their mothers; mainly one-parent families and/or where parents are older than average (Agnew & Huguley, 1989; Cornel & Gelles, 1982; Paulson, Coombs, & Lansverk, 1990; Ibabe, Jaureguizar, & Diaz, 2009; Heide & Petee, 2007). In terms of parent-killings it has been noted a prevalence of patricides over matricides (Hillbrand, Alexandre, Young, & Spitz, 1999; Granath, Hagstedt, Kivivuori, Lehti, Ganpat, Liem, & Nieuwbeerta, 2011).

Many authors attribute this to current parenting styles, characterized by excessive indulgence, permissiveness and lack of boundaries, which ends up producing an imbalance in the filio-parental relationship (Cottrell, 2001; Price, 1996). Gallagher (2004) found two types of family with intra-family violence: one with a liberal-permissive, overprotective character and without consistent norms, and another with an authoritarian character. Laurent and Derry (1999) identified the third type, parental neglect or lack of supervision of the child, generally of low socio-economic class, and whose children are characterized by their high level of independence and responsibility in relation to their subsistence.

Finally, one of the hypotheses currently gaining momentum is that of the bi-directionality of violence. It would appear that the violence parents commit on their children is related to violence by children against parents (Hartz, 1995; Ulman & Straus, 2003).

Current scholarship almost solely focuses on adolescent violence against parents as a retaliatory practice of abused children. In this presentation, I would like to look deeper into types of violence against parents and parent-killing to problematize such a focus and show the complexity of parent-abuse in various contexts and localities. The material used for the presentation comes from a variety of national case studies to highlight certain similarities and systematic differences in adolescent violence and parent abuse.

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Research Secretary Marjukka Virkajärvi
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