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The parents who live in fear of their children
Hundreds of terrified parents in Brighton and Hove are living in fear of their own children.
Many are regularly punched, kicked and spat at by violent youngsters in their care.
Others claim their out-of-control teenagers often pin them down and beat them up if they refuse to give out money or treats.
This year more than 200 calls have been made to domestic violence charity RISE from mothers and fathers who said they were being physically abused by their offspring.
Recent research showed one in three single parents in Brighton and Hove have been abused by their children with 7 - 18% of two parent families affected.
One mother told University of Portsmouth researchers : "It's like domestic violence was 20 or 30 years ago. It's hushed up, brushed under the carpet and no one talks about it.
“He'll scream and shout at me, awful abuse, absolutely awful abuse, he'll throw things at me, he'll punch holes in doors, he'll hit me, and this'll be all in front of my three little ones.'
The domestic charity RISE estimates nearly 10% of the calls it receives are from despairing parents regarding abuse from their own children.
A special project called Break for Change was set up in the city four years ago by Brighton and Hove City Council with RISE and other agencies to tackle the growing problem.
It was one of the first schemes to deal with child to parent violence in the UK and has been copied across the country.
Despite its success, Martyn Stoner, parenting leader for Break for Change, said the problem of child to parent violence appeared to be getting worse in Brighton and Hove.
During one recent therapy session with the charity, one teenager even kicked his own mother in the face.
Mr Stoner said: “It seems to be getting even more severe.
“It could be punching, kicking spitting, intimidation. They often demand money or expensive goods.
“It could be low level abuse like swearing but often they are punching doors and walls and threatening to smash up the house.
“Then we often get parents actually being beaten up and having to call the police.”
Mr Stoner's project deals with children up to the age of 18. By that age, he said many teenagers had become physically stronger than their parents and often realised they could get their own way by using threats and intimidation.
He said: “We are not just getting kids from deprived areas.
“We are getting kids from middle class families who think it's their right to have these things or they kick off and become violent.”
Mr Stoner said many of the children who were referred to the project had themselves witnessed domestic violence in their homes.
He said: “Sometimes they can pick up on domestic violence so it can be learned behaviour. We use our sessions to help them realise that it is not acceptable behaviour.”
Detective Inspector Miles Ockwell, who leads Sussex Police's domestic violence team in Brighton and Hove, said the force came across many cases of child to parent abuse.
He said: “It's not always grown up children. We had one case recently where a three year old child was displaying violent tendencies towards the mother.
“The child had witnessed domestic abuse but often the effect on them is as bad as if they are being abused themselves.”
At Break for Change, families are given the opportunity to talk about their problems. More than 125 have been treated since 2008.
Parents and their violent children are asked to produce artwork and videos to explore their issues.
If you are affected call the RISE helpline on 01273 622822.
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