Can you imagine being terrified of your own children?
Most parents take comfort from their children's unconditional love and affection. But some families are being torn apart by violent kids.
Mum of three Pauline Bubb, 47, only felt safe when her children were out of the house. She dreaded the time when Spencer, 11, and nine-year-old twins Sapphire and Jorja returned from school, not knowing whether she would be the victim of yet another violent attack.
In a new Channel 5 show to be aired tomorrow night, Bubb admits being attacked by her children up to 30 times a day. She was left battered and bruised but was too embarrassed to seek help. She agreed to take part in the documentary My Violent Child to try to get the help her family needed to put a stop to the violence.
Talking to the Mirror about her experience, Bubb said: "At worst Sapphire was attacking me 30 times a day. My legs would often be bruised and I had to keep them covered. She started off two years ago with controlling behaviour. She would ask me a question like, 'Can I have a packet of crisps?' but then say 'Yes Sapphire.' Then I had to say it but exactly how she wanted me to. I couldn't say it too fast or too slow, I had to stand still, I couldn't move, I couldn't blink. She would repeat herself 20 or 30 times. If I said no, she would get louder, start swearing and hit me. Four months ago she bit my face.”
Her son Spencer became violent at an alarmingly young age. At the age of four he stabbed her in the stomach with scissors. The following year he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the medication he was prescribed helped to reduce his violent outbursts.
The Violence Against Women and Children Crime Report 2013–2014, published by the CPS in July 2014, revealed that almost 200 children aged between 10 and 13 were charged with domestic violence, with 2,746 defendants aged between 14 and 17.
It's easy to write these youngsters off as bad kids. But the children are suffering too and in most cases lashing out at their parents because their emotional needs aren't being met.
Parenting facilitator Islay Downey worked closely with Bubb and the other parents featured on the show to help them tackle the issue of child-to-parent violence. Downey told SheKnows that her approach to dealing with abusive children is to "ask parents to put down the magnifying glass and to pick up the mirror."
"Instead of looking at what our children are doing wrong all the time [we need to] think about how we, as parents, might do things differently," Downey explained. "Children behave as they do because of us."
My Violent Child is on Channel 5, Wednesday, March 4 at 9 p.m. Parenting a Violent Child, by Isla Downey and Kim Furnish, is out now.