Teens lash out, hurt parents

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013

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South Canterbury teens are manipulating, threatening and injuring their parents and grandparents.

Family violence co-ordinator Senior Constable Steve Wills said police were dealing with three to five incidents a week.

"That can obviously vary," he said. "It's built up to that at the moment . . . where teenagers are certainly impacting on family dynamics.

"We are seeing a lot of younger people manipulating parents, trying to get money or other things out of them as well, especially teenagers."

He said those affected included both single and two-parent families.

South Canterbury Women's Refuge manager Dawn Rangi-Smith also reported an increase in parents seeking help from the organisation after their teens had "lashed out", as well as calls from those experiencing domestic violence from their partners.

Those guilty of domestic abuse were not limited by age.

The problem was heightened for Timaru police and support agencies over the festive season. This year was no exception.

"Family violence never takes a holiday," Wills said.

"People enjoy being with family and friends and the result of this coming together is they have these clashes.

"Sadly, the violence does escalate over Christmas and January."

He said 20 per cent of victims immediately report it to police or social services, but that number is increasing.

"A lot of them go to family and friends first.

"[But] we are getting more people calling us earlier now than they may have done three or four years ago."

In some cases, a Police Safety Order (PSO) will be issued. The process separates the culprit from the victim for a short period of time, allowing them time to calm down. The concept was "very effective".

"You actually find the ones that are issued PSOs, it's usually a case of they take stock of what has happened. They think ‘jeez, I've made a mistake' and deal with the situation sooner."

Money was one of the main aggravating factors for domestic violence, he said.

Rangi-Smith said both alcohol and financial pressure were contributing factors for many of the cases she sees.

She said it was important for people to remember they do not need to stay in an abusive relationship and should seek help if required.

LIMITING ABUSE

How to limit the chance of domestic abuse over the festive season: Talk to other family members about ways to keep spending down.

Give the "gift of kindness" by taking children on an outing.

Spend time listening to each other.

Respect each other's boundaries.

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- The Timaru Herald

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