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Teenage Domestic Abuse The Focus Of Dorset-wide Campaign

Teenage domestic abuse is at the centre of a campaign currently underway in Dorset.

Local agencies – including Dorset Police and all of Dorset’s local authorities and community safety partnerships – are using bus advertising, a poster campaign and awareness events to reach teenagers at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Youth workers in Poole have also taken part in training to help them spot the signs of domestic abuse.

Research carried out by the NSPCC in 2009 showed that 25 per cent of girls and 18 per cent of boys aged 13-17 had experienced physical domestic violence, with even greater numbers reporting sexual or emotional abuse.

The official definition of domestic abuse was extended earlier this year to include 16- and 17-year olds, although many services for victims in Dorset were already open to this age group.

Councillor Judy Butt, Borough of Poole’s Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Public Engagement and Participation and Chair of the Safer Poole Partnership Board, said: “Domestic abuse can take many forms and it’s often hard to spot, especially when you’re the victim. Controlling behaviour, name-calling, threats and emotional blackmail are all forms of abuse and can affect anyone – even teenagers!

“There’s no shame in reporting domestic abuse. It isn’t your fault and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. There are many organisations that are there to help you but you need to take the first step and contact them.”

Detective Superintendent Andy Clowser, Head of Public Protection at Dorset Police, said: “Domestic violence can affect people of all ages and the recent change in the definition has been changed to better reflect the fact that there are increasing numbers of young people affected by abuse who need help and protection from those who commit these offences.

“I hope that the extension of the definition will continue to increase awareness that young people in this age group experience domestic violence and abuse thereby encouraging more to come forward and access the support they need.

“We work extremely hard with our partners to support victims of domestic abuse and to bring those responsible to justice. I have specially trained and experienced officers and police staff to respond to and investigate domestic abuse and to provide the best possible support and protection to victims and their families. It is really important that victims know there is a wide range of support available to them, not just through the police but through organisations that include the local authorities and a number of charities.

“I would strongly encourage anyone suffering domestic abuse to come forward and report it so that action can be taken to keep them safe.”

Detective Superintendent Clowser warned offenders: “We will seek you out and you will be held accountable for your actions.”

Councillor Nicola Greene, Deputy Leader of Bournemouth Council, said: “We fully support this campaign in Bournemouth in helping to keep young people safe in the borough. It’s important that young people are made aware of the risks of becoming a victim of domestic abuse or even becoming a perpetrator and where they can seek help if they need it.”

The posters and bus adverts are based on materials from the Home Office’s ‘This is Abuse campaign’, and give examples of different forms of abuse. The bus adverts are due to run until 8 December.

National Support for Victims:

National DV Helpline (24 hour) 0808 2000247

National Men’s Advice Line (for male victims) 0808 8010327

Local Support for victims

Bournemouth Outreach Service  01202 547641 

Poole Outreach Service  01202 710777

You First (Dorset County Outreach) 0800 0325204

Childline (for children) 0800 1111

This is Abuse website (for teenagers): http://thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk/|

The Hideout website (for teenagers): http://www.thehideout.org.uk|

For a list of all the organisations that support victims of domestic abuse, visit: www.dorsetforyou/dvahelp|