Parents fear violent behaviour

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by Jolene Cargill

A growing number of parents in Scotland fear their children are becoming more violent as a result of gang culture, according to new research from a leading children’s charity.

Children 1st revealed that parents made three hundred and fifty calls to ask for help because they are scared of their children’s aggressive behaviour and the impact of violence in their communities.

A quarter of parents who called Parentline Scotland between June 2010 and March 2011 about violence were worried about local gangs.  The findings also revealed some parents had been physically assaulted by their children and suggested young people are behaving aggressively because they fear becoming a victim of crime.

One mum who phoned about her fifteen year old son after he was attacked by a gang of young people in their neighbourhood said the physical injuries healed quickly but it had a devastating impact on the boy’s life.  Pauline said, “He has long term emotional scars.  He now suffers anxiety attacks and is on medication to control these.  But he’s also become withdrawn and rarely goes out.”

And the attack was filmed using a mobile phone.  “We don’t know where they showed it but the fact that they filmed the assault for their entertainment has added to the humiliation.”  Pauline is now getting ongoing support from Parentline, as and when she needs it, as she helps her son to recover.

The findings were reported by ParentLine Scotland from the joint initiative they launched with the Violence Reduction Unit eight months ago to offer support to parents worried their child may be involved in violent behaviour and gang activity.

Previous surveys have shown that young men aged between 15 and 34 are most likely to carry a knife.  Most of those who admitted to carrying knives said that they did so for self-protection.

Alison Todd, Director of Policy and Practice Development for Children 1st, the charity that runs ParentLine Scotland said, “Children and young people are witnesses to and are victims of violence, both in their homes and communities, so it is not surprising that they are displaying aggressive behaviour themselves. It is important that children receive the help and support they need to overcome the negative impact of violence.”

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, head of the Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“The vast majority of our young people in Scotland will be fine – they’ll never get involved in violence, they’ll never carry a knife and they won’t be aggressive towards others. But that doesn’t stop parents worrying. That’s why the service ParentLine Scotland provides is so important. It can offer parents who are worried reassurance, guidance and a sympathetic ear.”

Parents worried about violent behaviour can call ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233 or email them at the following address parentlinescotland@children1st.org.uk