Need for unique responses for adolescent family violence

Need for unique responses for adolescent family violence

Monday, 10 April 2017

Troubled Teens by Elicia Savvas and Anoushka Jeronimus
Published with permission of the Law Institute Journal

The children’s law special issue in the Law Institute Journal this month brings into focus the unique dynamics of adolescent family violence and existing legal responses to it.

Knowledge is slowly increasing about adolescent family violence, expanding on how we generally view family violence: as heterosexual intimate partner violence between adults in, or previously in, a domestic relationship.

Elicia Savvas is one of our family violence senior lawyers and an accredited specialist in children’s law. Anoushka Jeronimus is our Youth Crime Program Manager and an accredited specialist in children’s law and criminal law.

They say that while there are commonalities, the unique challenge with adolescent family violence is that parents or carers are responsible for the ongoing care and wellbeing of the person using violence against them.

Parents or carers are concerned about their child being charged with a criminal offence or being removed for the family home. Often a sense of shame or guilt accompanies this, based on the belief that their parenting may be to blame for their child’s behaviour.

From identifying this added layer of complexity, Elicia and Anoushka explore why a criminal justice response alone may not result in behavioural change. They say that the unique features of adolescent family violence are not adequately addressed within existing family violence responses, and that there is a pressing need for us to see and respond to it differently.

It is better, they say, to pair criminal justice responses with support or therapeutic service responses.

As recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence (RCFV), this means, for example, considering a legislated diversion scheme and restorative justice options to overcome the barriers that prevent families from seeking assistance.

RCFV recommendations are a positive step towards a better response to adolescent family violence in the home, they say.

A snapshot

  • Adolescent family violence has distinct features, and young people using family violence have multiple and complex needs.
  • Current risk assessments and youth justice responses to adolescent family violence are not sufficiently targeted and flexible.
  • Diversion and restorative justice options may overcome barriers to seeking help and provide an opportunity to address the complexity of a young person’s needs.

Published with permission from the Law Institute Journal.

Read the article

Read Troubled Teens in the children’s law special issue of the Law Institute Journal, April 2017.

How we can help

Find out about family violence intervention orders and how to get help.

More information

Read our submission to Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Read the submissions we have made to support Appropriate interventions for children and young people.