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  1. ITV Report

Teenage victims to be recognised under new domestic abuse guidelines

Victims of domestic violence and abuse aged 16 and 17 will be recognised as victims under Government plans Photo: Daybreak

Victims of domestic violence and abuse aged 16 and 17 will be recognised as victims under Government plans.

The Home Office is widening the definition of domestic abuse to include a wider range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Credit: PA Wire

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Nick Clegg has said the changes will "help expose the true face of domestic violence, which is much more complex and much more widespread than people often realise".

"Suffering at the hands of people who are meant to care for you is horrific at any age," he said.

"But it can be especially damaging for young people - the scars can last a lifetime."

The Government wants to send a clear message that "even if you're young, even if what you experience isn't one single act of violence, you do not have to put up with abuse", he added.

"There is help out there for you. And to the perpetrators the message is equally simple: what you're doing is wrong and won't be tolerated."

The extension of the definition of domestic violence to include people under 18 is the latest move by the Government to tackle domestic violence.

The decision follows a Government consultation which saw representatives from the police, voluntary organisations and local authorities call overwhelmingly for this change.

Extending the definition will increase awareness that young people in this age-group experience domestic violence and abuse, encouraging more of them to come forward and access the support they need - for example, speaking to someone about the abuse or contacting a helpline or a specialist service.

The Government currently defines domestic violence as:

The Home Office will be widening the definition of domestic abuse in March 2013 to include those aged 16 and 17 as well as a wider range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

The new definition will not be written into law, but it will be broadened to include:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

A new NSPCC young peoples panel has been established to help inform the Governments work on tackling domestic violence, particularly by and against young people.

Clegg will today meet with young ambassadors from the NSPCC and congratulate the organisation on taking such a stand on the issue.

The Association of Chief Police Officers have also warned that, on average, two women a week and one man every 17 days are murdered by their current or former partner.

The young women in our research were at high risk of serious harm or murder. Over a quarter had self-harmed and one in five were pregnant.

There is a clear need for support in this area and it is essential that independent domestic violence advisors are funded to work with victims of all ages.

– Diana Barran, Caada's chief executive