The COVID-19 pandemic has created the conditions for an alarming 20 per cent rise in child-to-parent violence in Victoria, new crime data reveals.

Elena Campbell, associate director at RMIT Universitys Centre for Innovative Justice who is leading research on the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on adolescent violence in the home, said this type of behaviour was not just teenagers being teenagers.
Its definitely recognised as a pattern of behaviour, like other forms of family violence, Ms Campbell said. Its understood as having an aim to try and control a situation or get a certain outcome.
Ms Freiverts said everyday interactions could also often escalate to violent outbursts.
[For example] it will be the parents reminding the kids three, four, five times to get off the computer, get off social media and get to bed.
Then they [parents] get more and more frustrated with them [children] and switch off the modem or take the device off them and before you know it youve been punched in the face or theres verbal abuse, she said.
Additionally, a young person lashing out violently has often experienced a toxic cycle of family violence at home, according to RMITs Ms Campbell.
Its usually a scenario where there was adult intimate partner violence, and the system did its thing and stepped in and just separated [the adults] apart and we thought, weve done our job, she said.
Child-to-parent violence is increasing.Credit:Gabriele Charotte
But we hadnt done anything to invest the time and resources into helping them recover from that experience, and helping younger children who might be younger at a time process and recover.
[So] if were intervening in adolescent family violence were intervening 10 years too late.
Ms Freiverts said one of the biggest misconceptions she confronted in her career was that family violence was limited to lower socio-economic communities.
Were in the inner-east [of Melbourne] so we have an awful lot of very middle-class and upper-middle-class families and young people that are going to private schools, she said. They can be dux [of their class] and everything else and there can be adolescent violence there.
Sergeant Kay Morgan, who leads the family violence unit in Dandenong in Melbournes south-east one of the fastest-growing areas in Victoria said she was most concerned about cultural and linguistically diverse communities in her area.
We have, at last count, in excess of 160 different nationalities in our area and that is probably the biggest concern for us at the moment, she said. One of our focuses at the moment is about how we can engage with communities early because the fear is that family violence is occurring, but because of the barriers it is under-reported.
The 2015 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence found that young people who use violence in the home are more often than not grappling with mental health conditions and cognitive disabilities. Most of the recommendations related to family violence involving children and young people from the 2015 royal commission have been implemented, including the introduction of dedicated youth resource officers in police family violence teams like Detective Sergeant Morgans.
But the government is behind schedule on delivering accommodation options for adolescents who use violence at home, an issue which Sergeant Morgan said leads to children being placed with ill-equipped family members or even more volatile situations.
With young people, its not always about putting them through the justice system, its more about offering supports to enable the families to live together safely and to make sure that theyre supported to do that and remain together, she said.
Although Sergeant Morgan says her proactive team is getting results, it has more work than it can keep up with. Just two officers are managing 64 people under the age of 24 who are perpetrators of family violence.
Where to get help

  • In an emergency call 000
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 (24-hour, national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service)
  • Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 (24-hour)
  • Safe Steps – 1800 015 188

Two people, the maths just doesnt work with 64, she said.
A spokesman for the state government was providing funding for numerous programs across the state that specialise in intervening early in families where children are using violence, and had funnelled $20 million into the family violence sector in August in response to the pandemic-induced crisis.
No one is born violent its often the result of numerous and often complex factors, including exposure to family violence themselves, the spokesman said.
– With Erin Pearson and Craig Butt
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