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Saturday 23 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
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# parents
Parents suffer broken bones in violent attacks by their children
Teenage issues and aggression are the most common reasons for calls to a helpline for parents in Ireland.

A HELPLINE FOR parents has said one of the biggest problems people come to them with is aggression by children, with some parents suffering broken bones in violent attacks.

Parentline deals with around 6,000 calls a year providing support to parents on a variety of different issues. Data provided to shows teenage issues and aggression topped the list of reasons for calls to the helpline in 2013.

“My instinct is that it’s teenagers, not that I want to forgive them for that kind of behaviour, because it’s unacceptable, but at the same time it’s a very difficult time for children,” company secretary Rita O’Reilly said. “If they’re starting a new school they have different subjects, different teachers, possibly new friends and on top of that pimples and all the physical hormonal things going on”.


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“The majority are roaring and shouting, banging doors or flinging things around the house – ‘shaping up’ is how I like to phrase it,” O’Reilly continued. “We do get cases there where there’s physical harm, we’ve had broken bones, that sort of thing.”

It’s terrifying for them, they’re frightened in the situation thinking ‘God, I’m going to get hit’ but that’s their son or their daughter and they’re wondering if that’s becoming of them, are they ever going to live a proper life – they’re fearful for their children. It’s all just fraught with tension and fear and worry.


Figures show most of the calls last year relating to anger and aggression were from parents with teens aged 14:


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There is generally little disparity between aggression by boys and girls, O’Reilly said, though there was a bigger gap last year:


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O’Reilly said primarily, parents are calling for someone to talk to as they can be embarrassed to tell people about what is happening to them.

She also said that this is an issue that affects people across the board and no sex, class, income, education level or marital status is prominent among callers to the helpline.


The organisation is one of few which did not notice a significant change due to the recession as parents were already calling frequently about aggression during the boom years.

However O’Reilly said there have been some examples in the last number of years of adult children returning to live with their parents because of their employment status, or because a relationship has ended.

“Previously, when a relationship broke up they’d both go out and buy a house, now they can’t so they move back to mam and dad,” she explained. “It’s not really anger and aggression in this case, it’s more about who owns the remote control, who does the washing, should you have to tell your parents where you’re going.”

Parentline will soon start a new programme to help train parents to handle aggressive behaviour and the issues that come with it. Some of the main tips include:

  • Wait for a calm moment to discuss their behaviour
  • Make your child aware this is not acceptable
  • Try to find out what is causing your child to behave in this way

If you are affected by any of these issues, you can contact Parentline through its website or on 1890 927 277.

Read: Abused husband was ‘knocked out’ and had knife ‘lunged’ at him>

Column: 10 ways to get on with teenagers>

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