Spoiled children a violent threat to mothers

By Deborah Gough
Social Affairs Reporter
October 21, 2004

Teenagers who feel entitled to consumer goods and freedoms have emerged as a group likely to be violent towards parents - particularly their mothers.

A health conference in Melbourne yesterday was told while two-thirds of cases of child violence occurred in homes where there was a history of domestic violence, in about one in five cases the children came from wealthy two-parent families with no reported history of domestic violence.

Psychologist and counsellor Eddie Gallagher said his study of 95 cases of abuse by children aged eight to 18 found that in all but one case the abuse was aimed at the mother. In 17 cases both parents were abused.

The vast majority of the abuse involved physical violence.

In 84 per cent of cases, the abuse was by boys, and in 16 per cent by girls, but Mr Gallagher said there appeared to be no difference between the sexes in the severity of the violence.

Mr Gallagher said children often picked up fathers' chauvinistic attitudes towards mothers and this made some children treat them as servants.

He said children often felt more "entitled" to consumer goods and freedoms and this, coupled with lower levels of responsibility, could lead to violence.

"Parents take responsibility for things that they didn't take responsibility for in the past, like their children's education, running them around, their leisure time, even for their friends," Mr Gallagher said. "All this produces a sense of entitlement when parents are over-responsible."

The conference, Who's the Boss? was run by the Inner South Community Health Service in St Kilda.