“More education needs to be given to young adolescents about what is appropriate relationship behaviour and what is inappropriate,” Dr Price said, saying she was “horrified” by some of the stories she heard from her own teenaged children about “what some of their friends are putting up with”.
She said GPs should take the opportunity to speak with young women requesting contraception about their relationship, to “make sure that they are safe and understand what is appropriate”.
GPs are also advised on how to deal with adolescents who are violent to their parents, which was “a significant but under-reported issue”.
“Parents often struggle to recognise an adolescent’s behaviour as abusive, instead minimising it, or labelling it as ‘challenging’,” the white book says.
“Parents also hesitate to report adolescent-to-parent violence due to shame, stigma or fear of repercussions for their child’s future.”
Dr Price said violent behaviour could emerge at a young age and GPs should be aware so that “we can intervene as early as possible”.
“We need to really start to understand the effects of trauma that are layered throughout our society and make sure that we really respond appropriately to it,” she said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the white book had been updated to ensure GPs were equipped with “the latest evidence-based knowledge and make a real difference for patients who have made the courageous decision to disclose details of violence, assault or abuse”.
“Family violence and abuse can sadly be part of the lives of Australians across the country,” Mr Hunt said.
“Victims and survivors often turn to their GP for support, and their GP’s response can make all the difference.”
Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). Men working to change their behaviour can get help from the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.
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