Multi-Agency Parent Abuse Prevention Programs Urgently Needed, According to
Former Orange County Commissioner Homer Hartage
ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 9, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 9,2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Rosemary Pate did what she thought
were all the right things: She earned an undergraduate degree from the
University of Central Florida and a master's degree from the Florida Institute
of Technology. She had a promising 30-year career at Lockheed Martin, working
as a senior contracts manager. She had a palatial home in the suburbs of
Ocoee, a winning smile, loving siblings and parents, and the best schools for
her only son.
Rosemary was committed to community service, mentoring underprivileged
children and raising money for causes like Junior Achievement. She loved road
biking and rode three times a week, once cycling 70 miles in a Tour de Cure to
raise funds and awareness for diabetes.
On July 11, she left home for a four-day vacation in Hilton Head, S.C. That
Saturday Homer Hartage texted her, saying how much she had been missed at the
Saturday morning ride. She replied, "It's good to be missed."
Rosemary returned home on July 14 and retired to her bedroom, which she had
tried to secure with heavy-duty locks to protect herself from her abusive son.
Waking early the next morning she was brutally attacked and killed. Her
19-year old son was charged with first-degree murder and grand theft.
Rosemary was a victim of a form of domestic violence called parent abuse.
Much of what we know about parent abuse is capsulized by Amanda Holt in her
book "Adolescent-to-Parent Abuse." Parent abuse typically escalates from
verbal and emotional abuse, followed by threats of violence that may include
financial abuse, which includes demanding money or stealing from parents.
Abusers typically threaten violence against parents, siblings and pets if the
parents refuse to give in to their demands. Eventually, threats turn into
violence, which sometimes leads to murder.
Statistics show the beginning age for abuse is between 15 and 16 years of age.
In cases of male abusers, fathers are often missing from the home. Data are
mixed on gender, finding that male and female abusers act out at about the
same rate. In violent cases, males are more likely perpetrators against single
mothers. Parent abuse is almost evenly perpetrated against mothers and
Abusers are more likely than the general population to have been diagnosed
with mental-health problems, experienced psychiatric hospitalizations and
attempted suicide. There can be evidence of gang involvement or a history of
classroom violence. There may be attendance problems in school and learning
difficulties, and more than half of abusers use drugs before their offense,
Parent abuse is reflective of a pattern of behavior by an adolescent with the
effect of changing the parent-child power and authority roles, and should not
be confused with occasional outbursts of teens. Compared with other
adolescents, those who commit parent abuse show far more behavioral problems
over extended periods of time than their peers who have criminal or behavioral
Crafting an appropriate response to parent abuse requires a multi-agency
approach, as demonstrated in Santa Clara County, Calif. Superior Court Judge
Eugene M. Hyman established a Juvenile Domestic and Family Violence Court
involving prosecutors, probation officers, public defenders, judges and the
community. The goal of any parent-abuse program is the prevention of harm to
the parent by breaking the cycle of abuse by the youth offender.
Santa Clara County offers a definitive model, but it can be improved by the
addition of early-intervention procedures, including directives for schools,
health-care professionals, community-service agencies and law enforcement to
identify parent abuse.
The criminal-justice infrastructure should establish a category of parent
abuse to track incidents. Judicial systems should act in the spirit of Hyman,
now retired, and create a system within the judiciary to address parent abuse.
Florida Sen. Geraldine Thompson has said she will examine legislative action
on parent abuse and is seeking input from the Florida Department of Children
There are no guarantees that such programs would have saved the life of
Rosemary Pate, but the use of such programs may have provided her a better
chance at survival.
Homer Hartage is a former Orange County commissioner.
Homer Hartage, 4862 Indialantic Dr. Orlando, Fl 32808
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SOURCE Homer Hartage
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