Adolescent Perpetrators of Family Violence

One of the grave concerns emerging from COVID-19 is the increase in Family & Domestic Violence, (FDV).  It is encouraging to see both Federal and State governments acknowledge the importance of providing safety and security for women and families escaping domestic and family violence.  Minister McGurk is to be commended for her recent media release, outlining the four areas the government is targeting in this regard.[1]

When we think of FDV, we think partner perpetrated violence against the other partner or children.  Yet, there is another form of Family Violence that is under-reported and often not recognised, this is Adolescence violence in the home (AVITH).

In March 2020 the ABC reported that “evidence suggests between 7 and 13 per cent of teenagers use violence against their parents or other family members, and about 10 per cent of police call-outs for family violence involve adolescent respondents”[2].

The shame and stigma surrounding this form of family violence means victims and perpetrators often remain “invisible”.  Parents and often reluctant to involve Police, hoping it is just a difficult phase their adolescent in going through.

A recent study, The PIPA Project – Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent Violence in the Home, has found that families who are experiencing AVITH often have little service support in terms of counselling or domestic and family violence services.[3]  The report also found that police, courts, child protection services and social support services are not equipped to respond holistically to the situations and vulnerabilities of adolescents who use violence.[4]

Some of the recommendations from this report that we need to seriously consider in addressing the whole area of FVD include:

  • Investing in the development of expertise in AVITH across the family violence, legal, disability, mental health and other relevant service sectors.
  • Ensuring legal responses assess the capacity of young people to understand and comply with civil protection orders, as well as criminal justice processes.
  • Develop evidence-based and trauma-informed AVITH-specific interventions that include capacity for outreach, case management and restorative engagement, and build capacity for whole-of-family approaches.
  • Support the development of strengths-based and community-led interventions that respond appropriately to AVITH in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
  • Invest significant policy attention and inquiry into the disproportionate rates of adolescents with disability

 

We need to address the areas of adolescent perpetrators of family violence, otherwise the adolescent perpetrators of today will be the adult perpetrators of tomorrow.