Support with issues affecting young people

As a young person, there are certain issues which are likely to affect you more than people in other age groups. This guide provides information on some of those issues and tells you where you can go for help.

1. Sex and relationships

Relationships and experimenting are part of growing up but it’s important that you feel safe, secure and respected in your relationship. That means going at a pace you both feel comfortable with. Sex is a big step and should only be taken when you feel ready.

Remember:

  • Saying yes once doesn't mean you always have to say yes 
  • You are in control of your body and if you're not in the mood, no one has the right to convince you otherwise
  • You have the right to say no to anyone, including a long-term partner
  • Violence and abuse in relationships is never okay. There is never an excuse for someone to treat you badly. 

Read more on consent, sex and sexual health

Abuse in relationships could include: 

  • your partner not letting you go out or needing to know where you are and who you're with all the time
  • telling you what to wear
  • telling you who to be friends with
  • taking control of your phone or social media accounts

A healthy relationship means having mutual respect and it is important that you talk to someone if you don't feel comfortable in your relationship.

Find out more about relationship abuse

 

2. Naked selfies

It is illegal for anyone who is under 18 to take naked or explicit images of themselves. If the pictures are sent to someone, then the person who receives them has also committed an offence.

The law is there to protect young people, but when something goes viral it is very difficult to regain control of the images or videos. Therefore, it is best to avoid taking explicit photos or videos altogether.

Think before you snap: "Is this something I would want someone else to see?"

Many people who have sent a naked selfie to a partner report that the images have later been seen by others. This is a violation of your privacy and illegal.

If you are worried, talk to someone you trust or inform the police.

3. Bullying

Bullying can occur in a number of forms, from nasty indirect tweets to race or gender based discrimination. 

A 2012 survey by the NSPCC showed that between 2012 and 2013, 16,000 young people were absent from school due to bullying, and that half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have experienced homophobic bullying.

Nobullying has also discovered that 7 in 10 young people are victims of cyber bullying.

​Bullying can be direct, indirect, obvious or subtle, but if at any point you are feeling threatened you have a right to speak out.

If you know someone who is being bullied or you are experiencing bullying yourself, help is available:

Childline has excellent advice on dealing with bullying. You can call their helpline on 0800 1111.

YoungMindsNobullying and BullyingUK are also helpful websites with lots of information and advice.

4. Gangs

5 or 6 years ago, 'gangs' and groups involved in violence were all about representing your area with groups being very visible and clearly associated with a specific 'gang'. This happened in various ways, including wearing 'gang' colours, using dogs as weapons, and making music videos shared via social media showing 'gang' members taunting other groups.

Nowadays, young men or women are persuaded to get involved or coerced into involvement by flash cars, jewellery, trainers, small amounts of money etc. These things can be extremely appealing, exciting and aspirational to some 12/13 year olds, and this is where the cycle often begins.

The ‘business’ element can be very alluring with promises of money, however the money is only made by those few at the top with most of those involved risking their lives and liberty for what normally works out as far less than the minimum wage. 

With drug dealing, violence and weapons come hand in hand, and that is where things escalate. This exploitation of younger and more vulnerable people through crime and the illegal drug trade reinforces the position of the senior group leaders through increasing use of violence.

The message from the gangs workers in Westminster is simple

They want all young people to stay safe, alive and out of prison.

They will work with any young person from Westminster in relation to drugs, weapons and group violence to divert them away from the gang culture, educate them about the consequences of their involvement and help them find alternatives to crime.

The main groups or 'gangs' Westminster gangs workers work with are from South Kilburn, Mozart, Warwick, Lisson Green Men, Church Town Militants, Ebury and Page Street. However, they will work with young people from any area in Westminster who are affected by gangs and who want help.

The gangs workers know how hard it can be to change lifestyles and get away from negative people and are here to support affected young people to make and stick to the difficult changes needed in a safe way.

Get in touch

There are young men and women who may read this and feel they are affected by these issues or have friends or family who are affected.

You can speak to anyone in the gangs unit or police in the strictest of confidence and they will ensure communication is handled in the safest way possible.

To talk to someone confidentially:

  • Phone: 020 7641 5027
  • Email: integratedgangsunit@westminster.gov.uk

5. The Trap

Young people from across 3 boroughs of West London came together to produce an educational resource that challenges misconceptions and explodes myths surrounding ‘victimless’ crimes.

 'The Trap' was the result. 2 powerful films that explore the impact of street drug dealing and knife carrying on individuals and their communities. 

Their message is loud and clear: There is no such thing as a victimless crime. Everyone gets hurt in the process.

 

View The Trap website

6. Additional help

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised above, it's important you don't go through it alone. Confide in someone you trust or seek professional help.

There are many professional services available to you, however in an emergency you should always call 999.

Local services

  • Talking Without Fear

This is a 12-week programme for children, young people and their mothers who have previously lived with domestic violence.

The Portman Early Childhood Centre

Address: 12-18 Salisbury Street London NW8 8DE

Phone: 020 7641 5435/6 or 020 7262 0384
Email: p.rampersad@portmancentre.co.uk

  • Angelou

Angelou provides all Violence against Women and Girls services in Westminster.

Phone: 0808 801 0660 (Freephone) or 020 8741 7008

Email: angelou@advancecharity.org.uk or advice@wgn.org.uk

Helplines and online services

  • Childline - 0800 1111
    You can speak to a councillor on the phone or online. The number is free and will not come up on your phone bill.
  • NSPCC - 0808 800 5000
    This is a number for over-18s, if you are worried about a child. This is free on landlines and most mobile phones.
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline - 0808 2000 247
    This is a free 24 hour number. It is usually for over 18s but they may be able to help if you are over 16.
  • Get Connected - 0808 808 4994
    This is a free number that gives you the support and information you need to decide what you want to do next.
  • The Hideout 
    A website which helps children and young people to understand domestic abuse and how to take a positive action if it is happening to you.
  • Refuge 
    Services for young women including independent domestic violence advocates and support workers.
  • Respect Not Fear
    This website includes information about respect in relationships.
  • Rape Crisis
    This website contains advice about rape and sexual violence and gives the details of the nearest Rape Crisis Centre if you need support.
Last updated 30 August 2017