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Lundi 28 Septembre 2020

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Interviews OIJJ - Dr. María Dolores Serrano Tárraga. Professor on Criminal Law and Criminology in the Faculty of Law at the UNED. Spain.

Monday 30th of May 2011 | National, Espagne

Dr. María Dolores Serrano Tárraga describes and tells in an exhaustive way about the current situation on child-parent violence in Spain. The family models, national policies and the minor’s disruptive behaviour profile are some of the essential elements highlighted in the thematic IJJO Interview.

Mrs. María Dolores Serrano Tárraga is Doctorate in Law from the National University of Distance Learning, she graduated in Criminology from the University of Alicante, and in Criminology from the Institute of Criminology at the Complutense University of Madrid. She is currently working as a professor on Criminal Law and Criminology in the Faculty of Law at the National University of Distance Learning teaching modules on Criminal Law II (Criminology), Juvenile Criminal Law, on the degree course for Law and Environmental Criminal Law and on the degree course Environmental Sciences. She has written books and articles on penal law and criminology. Amongst her main publications related to minors is the book Juvenile Criminal Law (Dykinson: 2005), Juvenile Criminal Law, 2nd Edition (Dykinson: 2008), for which she was a coordinator and co-author.

The following is an interview presented by Dr. María Dolores Serrano Tárraga, Professor on Criminal Law and Criminology in the Faculty of Law at the UNED, which took place as part of the collaborative network of the creation process of Diagrama International; the report “Violence by minors towards their parents” is a result of this organisation’s participation in the research project “European Dimension – European Comparative Analysis and Transfer of Knowledge on Juvenile Delinquency Forms” (JLS/2007/ISEC/488), coordinated by the Don Calabria Institute (Italy) within the “PREVENTION OF AND FIGHT AGAINST CRIME” of the European Commission.


Analysis of the current situation

  • Educational and socio-cultural factors

    In recent years in Spain there has been an increase in school failure rates. 38.9% of young people did not complete secondary level education, placing Spain third worst in Europe for school failure rates. School failure is a factor which can influence aggression in children towards their parents.
    In terms of socio-cultural factors, it has been noted that aggression in children towards their parents occurs in all social environments, both in the poorest parts of society, and in the middle, upper-middle and upper classes, and both in normal families as in fragmented families.

  • Profiles of disruptive behaviour in minors

    In a large number of cases abuse of their parents by minors is due to psychopathological suffering, personality disorders - such as a lack of empathy - the consumption of narcotics and/or alcohol, and in some cases social exclusion; but minors who have received a lenient education, without the placing of limits, also carry out this behaviour. In some cases, the cause might be the existence of ill-treatment/abuse in the home, where the minors have witnessed acts of domestic violence between their parents, and copy the same behaviour.

  • New family models in Spain

    In Spain there has been an increase in mono-parental families in the last number of years, mainly made up of the mother and children due to an increase in divorces and separations, single mothers and immigrant families where a member of the couple is not present. Since the modification of the Divorce Law entered into effect, the number has gone up, speeding up the bureaucratic processes and changing the conditions of obtaining a divorce. However, according to the figures provided by the National Institute for Statistics (INE), in 2008 there was fall of 12% in the number of divorces compared to the previous year of 2007.

Juvenile delinquency

  • National data on juvenile delinquency related to violence by minors towards their parents/family

    In 2008, according to the data collected by the Public Prosecutors Office in 2009, the number of parents who suffered abuse at the hands of their children was 3,088.
    The Report by the Public Prosecutors Office collects information on proceedings which have already begun. It must be borne in mind that these figures include all acts of violence carried out by children towards their parents, both minors and older children.
    The Public Prosecutors Office also collects data relating to proceedings initiated under the Jurisdiction for Minors, the constitution relating to penal offenses carried out by minors, of 14 to 18 years old. The Report by the Public Prosecutors Office encompasses in one single section all offenses of domestic and gender violence, therefore we do not have an exact figure for the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutors Office for abuse by children towards their parents. The proceedings for domestic and gender violence crimes carried out by minors rose in 2008 to 4,211; this figure mainly comprises cases of abuse by children towards their parents or grandparents. It is estimated that the number of gender violence cases is much less.
    It is estimated that very few cases are reported and that the actual figure of abuse by children towards their parents is much higher, but there is reluctance on the part of the parents to report these events. This is despite the fact that the number of police reports increases every year, due to the changing attitudes of parents over a period of some time, having been faced with the impossibility of resolving the family conflict in a private environment, they decide to report the problem.

  • Legal proceedings in line with the system of autonomous communities in Spain

    Regarding the data collected by the Public Prosecutors Office no difficulties are created, as this is carried out by the Autonomous Communities, and the Public Prosecutors Office compiles the data collected in each of the Communities, and within them, in each of the provinces. However, this system of data collection is not recognised in the Annual Report of the Interior ministry. With regard to reported offenses committed by minors it is solely data of a general nature on the entire national level is collected.

  • Trends and types of crimes

    The general trend regarding the criminal behaviour of minors is that the greatest number of crimes are committed against the father. In crimes against people injuries take priority, with the exception of homicides or murders; however, there has been an increase in crimes of domestic and gender violence committed by children towards their parents.

  • Development of the problem

    In the annual report by the Public Prosecutors Office it is stated that aggression by children towards parents increases every year. In the last number of years this has increased geometrically. If we compare the data collected by the Public Prosecutors Office Report for 2008 and 2007, in 2008 3,088 incidents of aggression towards parents were registered and in 2007 this figure was 2,013.
    With regards to domestic and gender violence for which proceedings have been initiated under the Jurisdiction of Minors we have seen that the number was 4,211 in 2008 and in 2007 this had increased to 3,7471.

Indicators that must be borne in mind

  • The maximum interest of the minor

    Above all, it should be borne in mind that at the time of imposing a measure, both cautions and definitive measures, the existence of cases of domestic and gender violence a restraining order prohibiting proximity to or contact with the victim or those members of the family, or any others as determined by the Judge, that can lead to the minor no longer living with his/her family. In many cases this measure can be the most appropriate and convenient. However there must be an awareness whenever this measure is adopted, that as the minor must return to their family, it would be advisable to carry out support programs for children and also the parents with the aim of preventing the recurrence of abuse.

  • Reconstruction of the Family

    In those cases where a separation has been determined, wherever possible, all efforts must be made to reconstruct the family to enable the minor to return to his/her family. An adequate short term solution could be achieved through the adoption of a cohabitation measure with another person, family or education group.

1 It must be stated that this figure is higher as in this year the Public Prosecutors Office in Barcelona did not include in the classification domestic and gender violence offenses committed.

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