When it comes to the role of domestic violence in family law, most people think of one partner abusing another or abusing the children. However, there is another type of abuse that people rarely discuss. It involves children abusing parents. More often than not, these abusers are teenagers.

While partners can divorce each other and one parent might ensure the abusive parent does not have custody, things become more difficult when the abuser is the child. In most cases, however, all family members seem to be at risk.

Defining child-to-parent violence

Violence does not always manifest as physical aggression, though it commonly does. A study published by the National Institute of Health includes psychological violence. The victims are not always birth parents, either. Adoptive parents and other caregivers often become victimized by children.

The study also determined that when the behavioral problems were most serious, the perpetrators were more often sons instead of daughters. In fact, males accounted for anywhere from 59% to 87% of cases, based on self-reported data. Gender also plays a role in the victims. In 97% of abuse cases, mothers are at risk. Similarly, 83% of children who abuse mothers are sons.

Parents feel ashamed to come forward

NPR news reports that many parents feel ashamed of the role they believe they played in raising abusive children. This is one of the primary reasons parents do not report these issues. However, statistics show that this might be a lot more common than most people think and it is not a new phenomenon.

Recent statistics claim anywhere from 5% to 22% of families suffer from child-on-parent violence. A 2008 study also showed that of every 12 cases of domestic violence reported to law enforcement officers, one involved children as aggressors. In the mid-1970s, 1 in 11 families reported the same.

There are few resources in place to help families handle CPV. Many parents struggle with the decision of whether to let their children live in special residences that provide better mental health care.