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One in six teens guilty of abusing parents

Published on 22/08/2005

22 August 2005

BRUSSELS — Almost one out of every six Belgian technical and vocational secondary school students is violent towards their parents, with emotional abuse the most common form of violence.

The claim was made by Brussels Free University academic Kim Van Langenhove who surveyed 479 youths for her thesis. A survey in 2004 of students from TSO technical schools also gave a similar result.

Van Langenhove surveyed youths aged 13 to 19 in TSO or BSO vocational schools over emotional blackmail and emotional and physical violence against their parents.

Some 15 percent admitted they used violence against their parents and emotional abuse was the most common form (about 13 percent).

A smaller percentage said they used physical violence or emotional blackmail against their parents, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Monday.

Van Langenhove said emotional abuse involved blame or shouting matches designed to hurt parents, while emotional blackmail involved a youth using threats in order to obtain something.

The clinical psychologist also said parental abuse usually indicates there are problems within the family and that it is not only the problem of the youth.

“It can be that there is not enough talking in the family and the abuse becomes a manner of communicating,” Van Langenhove said.

“Another example is a situation in which the father is often absent and the mother seeks too much support from her children so that they become overburdened”.

Parental abuse appears to occur in all sectors of the population and in all family forms, especially families that are intact. However, Van Langenhove also said further study was necessary.

The phenomenon of parental abuse is also found across all age groups and girls commit it as much as boys do. Mothers are more often the victims. Parental abuse is less common among Islamic families.

Abused parents are usually ashamed to admit the problem in public and if they do broach the subject, they often encounter a lack of understanding. The responsibility is frequently turned back onto themselves.

“It is thus important that the taboo over this form of violence is broken. That is the first step. Parents will then be more quickly inclined to seek help,” Van Langenhove said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news