Dublinm, Ireland, Jan, 2021 -- A national support service for parents has reported a 40% increase in calls to its helpline last year and a more than five-fold increase in requests for support with ‘children to parent violence’.
Parentline said the Covid-19 pandemic had compounded the strains being felt by families, resulting in a significant increase in calls to its helpline and more requests for its Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) programme, which supports parents dealing with abusive or violent behaviour from their children.
Last year, the charity handled 4,144 calls from parents seeking advice and information about a wide range of issues, including school and work-related matters, anger and aggression, access and custody issues, and complying with Covid restrictions. This compares to 2,960 calls to the charity in 2019.
The number of calls in 2020 was the highest number recorded by Parentline in the past 10 years, according to chief executive of Parentline Aileen Hickie, who said the pandemic had exacerbated the strains being felt by families.
"The number of parents requesting our NVR programme has increased by more than 500%. It’s gone from 39 requests in 2019 to 221 in 2020," Ms Hickie said.
‘Child-to-parent violence’ relates to parents who are "afraid of their own child in their own home" because of verbal abuse, physical abuse, coercive or controlling behaviours, school refusal, or intimidation.
Under the programme, specially trained volunteers offer support and guidance to parents over the phone over a four- to six-week period to help end certain patterns of behaviour and repair the damaged relationship between the parent and child.
"We’re more than struggling to keep up with demand for support from parents. We now have a significant waiting list for parents requesting the NVR programme and we can’t meet that demand at the moment," she said, adding that the "demanding" programme was impacting on the delivery of other supports to parents.
"The issues were bubbling underneath and I think were exacerbated by Covid-19; I can’t lay everything at the door of Covid but they were certainly exacerbated by Covid."
Ms Hickie said the charity had sought additional funding from Tusla, the child and family agency, to meet the increased demand for support from parents during the pandemic.
"We’re already taking a huge number of calls this week from parents who are having difficulties. Even though the schools are closed we’re getting calls about children refusing to get out of bed and engage with remote learning," Ms Hickie said.
The charity, she said, had tips and advice for parents to help them cope during the pandemic and periods of lockdowns.
"We have tips for parents on our website on how they can support themselves and how they can support their children during lockdown and home schooling," Ms Hickie said.
Essentially, we’d say to parents it’s okay not to be the perfect parent; particularly now, it’s okay to be a ‘good enough’ parent."
Parentline can be contacted on 01 873 3500 or 1890 927 277 on Monday to Thursday from 10am to 9pm and on Fridays from 10am to 4pm.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Monday, January 18, 2021
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