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Problems at home


‘Domestic abuse’ is the ‘abusive’ behaviour of a person (who is aged 16 or over) towards another person (who is aged 16 or over) and these persons are ‘personally connected’.  Personally connected means that the persons –

(a) are, or have been, married to each other;
(b) are, or have been, civil partners of each other;
(c) have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
(d) have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
(e) they are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other;
(f) they each have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child (see subsection (2));
(g) they are relatives – 

(i) the father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson or granddaughter of that person or of that person's spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner, or 
(ii) the brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or first cousin (whether of the full blood or of the half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) of that person or of that person's spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner; and

includes, in relation to a person who is cohabiting or has cohabited with another person, any person who would fall within paragraph (i) or (ii) if the parties were married to each other or were civil partners of each other.

Abusive behaviour is any behaviour where the abuser seeks to obtain control or power over the victim such as - 

(a) physical or sexual abuse;
(b) violent or threatening behaviour;
(c) controlling or coercive behaviour; 
(d) economic abuse;
(e) psychological, emotional or other abuse;

Domestic abuse can impact on a child who sees or hears or experiences the effects of the abuse of the victim by the abuser and as such can also seek help.  

Domestic abuse can occur amongst people of all ethnic backgrounds, sexualities, ages, disabilities, immigration status, religions or beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. 

Most incidents of domestic abuse will be a criminal offence which may be reported to your local police force by telephoning 101 or by online reporting.  In an emergency dial 999.

Organisations that can offer advice and support are as follows –

  • Womens' Aid National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
  • Refuge 0808 2000 247 (Refuge)
  • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800 (Welsh Women's Aid)
  • ManKind Initiative 01823 334 244 (ManKind)
  • National Centre for Domestic Violence 0844 8044 999 (NCDV)


You can make a report to your local police who have specially trained officers who can offer help and support. You should report any assaults or acts of violence to the police so that action can be taken against your partner. The police have a responsibility to take positive action in reports of domestic violence.

The police are aware that speaking out about domestic violence can be very frightening, they will do their utmost to ensure that they provide all the help and support you require from the initial report through to any possible court proceedings.

For further help and information please see links to websites in related information.

Some other useful telephone numbers are -

    • Womens' Aid National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
    • Refuge 0808 2000 247 (Refuge)
    • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800 (Welsh Women's Aid)
    • ManKind Initiative 01823 334 244 (ManKind)
    • National Centre for Domestic Violence 0800 970 2070 (NCDV)


If you have been assaulted and want to report it to the police, even if you do not have any visible injuries, you should contact your local police force and report the incident.

If your partner or ex-partner has assaulted you, and you are 16 and over, this will be treated as a report of domestic violence; the police have a responsibility to take positive action to reports of domestic violence.

For more information on this topic, please see questions Q108 and Q109.

Some other useful telephone numbers are -


There is no official age when you can leave home. As long as you can show that you are living in accommodation that provides a safe environment (e.g. you are not at risk from drugs prostitution violence etc.) and you have a stable respectable method of supporting yourself financially, there are no legal barriers to leaving home at 16 years or older. If you are under 16, your parents or carers have a responsibility to keep you safe and they could possibly get a court order to make you return home or into care. If you are aged 17, then this is still possible, subject to all the surrounding circumstances.

If you just run away you could be in terrible danger. There could be consequences for young people who leave home and get into the wrong company. Making the wrong move could ruin your life.

Remember it is NOT what you judge to be a safe environment but what the people/authorities responsible for your welfare think is safe. You should try and do this with their blessing if possible.

If there is a serious underlying problem at home, talk to someone else, a teacher, a trusted adult relation or contact the charity Childline on 0800 1111 (or go to their website at

Do not act in haste, get as much advice and help as you can before you decide what to do.


Firstly, you should speak to your parents or guardians. Whatever has happened your parents or guardians may be more supportive than you think. Your parents were young once and although initially, they might be shocked/angry, hopefully, they will do their utmost to help you.

If you feel that you cannot speak to your parents or guardians then perhaps a trusted adult, such as a teacher, a family friend or a relative will be able to help you.

If you do not feel confident confiding in them Childline and the NSPCC have trained advisors who can give impartial advice and do not judge no matter what. With Childline you are completely in control you can say as much or as little as you want. However, the more you say, the more likely it is that you will get the best advice.

If a criminal offence has been committed you can also contact the Police, they have specialist officers that are trained to deal with young people.

Whatever has happened to you, however serious your problem, it will have happened to someone else and you are not alone. You will feel better about sharing your problems with someone who is better equipped to advise you.

For more help and information please see the websites in Related Information.


If your child is of compulsory school age, is registered at a school and fails to attend regularly at the school, you as the parent are guilty of an offence. 
A parent has a duty to ensure that their child  receives an education.

If your child is refusing to go to school, then the police do not have any powers to make them attend. You should speak to the school who will be able to offer support and assistance.

The police do have powers to remove a child of compulsory school age from a public place and take them back to a school or to  another place designated by the local authority (unless that child is home educated).


Getting the police involved in this type of issue is not always the best thing to do in the first instance, as it can escalate the issue and cause more problems for both parties.

The best thing to do, where possible, is to speak to your neighbour about the problem and try and resolve it between yourselves. If you have tried, or feel that, for whatever reason, it is not an option then you should speak to your local neighbourhood policing team.

If you keep the ball and refuse to give it back then you may eventually end up facing prosecution yourself as you are technically committing theft.


The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner. This information may be disclosed via a request from a member of the public (Right to Ask) or be initiated by the police where a pro active decision is made to disclose information in order to protect a potential victim (Right to Know).


The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) has introduced a new helpline service for adults who are concerned about their children in relation to street gangs. The number is 0808 800 5000. The Government has also produced a leaflet giving advice to parents regarding children and street gangs. Please see the links in the Related Information section.


Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit messages and pictures via mobile phones. It is a growing trend amongst young people and is also often used by sexual predators when they are grooming child victims.

The law

It is an offence to possess/send/make/take/distribute/show indecent photos of children (person under the age of 18). That means that the child who takes the photo commits an offence as does any person who it gets sent to. This is the case regardless of whether or not they forward it on to other people and also applies to anyone who simply shows it to other people.

However the position of the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) and the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) with regards to children who are involved in sexting is that 'prosecution options are avoided, in particular the use of legislation that would attract sex offender registration'.

It is advised that the wider safeguarding issues are looked at rather than the criminal justice element. Placing a child on the sex offenders register could cause serious damage to their future. To read the whole document, see the link in related information.

The images
Once an image is on the internet, it is potentially there forever. Even if the child sending the image had no intention for it to end up on there in many cases they do and this can be potentially very harmful to the child now and in the future. Many of the images end up in chat rooms used by paedophiles and sexual predators, even those that were not taken as a result of child exploitation or grooming.

Sexual exploitation
It has been said that paedophiles are using the above laws to frighten their victims into continuing to send further indecent images of themselves by saying that unless the child continues, it will be reported to the police and the child will be arrested and face prosecution. Safeguarding the victim should be at the centre of any police involvement in not only these types of incidents but also non exploitation scenarios.

If you or anyone you know are being sexually exploited then contact your local police by dialling 101 or 999 in an emergency. Police forces have specially trained officers to deal with these types of incidents.

Additionally, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is the UK internet Hotline for anyone to report online child sexual abuse imagery and non-photographic child sexual abuse images anonymously.

IWF works internationally to make the internet safer. They help victims of child sexual abuse worldwide by identifying and removing online images and videos of their abuse.

For further information and for a link to this, along with other websites, please see links in related information.

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