Definition of a Child

A child is anyone who has not yet reached his/her 18th birthday (Children Act 1989, as amended).

Teenage relationship abuse (TRA)

Teenagers experience high levels of relationship abuse. The 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales found that young people aged 16 to 19 were more likely to suffer partner abuse in the last year than any other age range.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) conducted research into a small selection of schools with young people aged 13 to 17 in mainstream education which examined their experiences of physical, emotional and sexual forms of violence in their partner relationships.

The research found that:

  • 25% of girls and 18% of boys experienced some form of physical abuse at least once in their lifetime;
  • 75% of girls and 50% of boys reported experiencing some sort of emotional abuse [1] at least once in their lifetime; and
  • 31% of girls and 16% of boys reported experiencing some form of sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

The charity, Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) collected information on 183 victims of domestic abuse (aged under 18) who were supported by specialist domestic violence services during a two year period (July 2010 – June 2012) [2]. 76% of these victims reported having experienced physical abuse such as broken bones, internal injury, slapping and pushing, whilst 22% reported experiencing sexual abuse such as rape, unwanted touching, or sexual insults. Just under a third of the victims (27%) had attended Accident & Emergency as a result of the abuse. Two-thirds of these victims were assessed as being in a high risk relationship, and many had additional health-related and economic vulnerabilities, for example 27% had previously self-harmed, 20% were pregnant and 18% had financial problems. Research has repeatedly shown that experiencing financial problems may act as a barrier to leaving an abusive relationship [3].

  1. In this study (Barter et al, 2009), ‘emotional abuse’ covers a wide a range of experiences, including ‘being made fun of’.