YOUNGSTERS from a South Tyneside school were given a lesson in treating loved ones properly.
Sixth-form pupils at Harton Technology College in South Shields were visited by two of the region’s most senior police representatives.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Vera Baird QC and Chief Constable Sue Sim were at the Lisle Road school as part of the launch of a new national campaign, This Is Abuse, which begins today.
The scheme is a Home Office initiative supported by the PCC and Northumbria Police, which aims to stop teenagers from becoming victims and perpetrators of abusive relationships.
Domestic abuse was the hot topic during the question-and-answer session at the school – the first the pair will be holding. They intend to field questions on any subject the audience chooses.
Ms Baird said: “I’m delighted I could meet students from Harton Technology College with the Chief Constable.
“Violence and abuse, whatever age it happens at, is often a silent crime – it happens but is not reported to the police.
“It must be stressed there is help and support available for those suffering, while those who commit this crime will have to deal with the consequences of their actions.”
Northumbria Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “Our message is simple – abuse in relationships is not normal or acceptable.
“If you are in an abusive relationship, it’s not your fault and you don’t have to stand for it.
“Teenagers, whether male or female, need to know that abuse isn’t just physical violence, but can also be mental abuse, and that there is something they can do about it – whether they are the victim or perpetrator.
“Our officers work closely with partner agencies to ensure those who suffer abuse have the help and support available to understand the issues and are able to talk to someone to help them deal with the issues affecting them.”
The national campaign for 13 to 18-year-olds explains that abuse, whether mental or physical, is unacceptable and doesn’t form part of a normal relationship and encourages teens to seek help and advice to end a cycle of abuse.
It runs until the end of April and will see information and posters available in schools, colleges, youth clubs, community halls, libraries and surgeries.
And from today, national TV and radio adverts will encourage teenagers to visit a website where they can seek help, guidance or comment in a safe environment.
Anyone who wants to speak to police about teenage abuse can call 101.
More information on organisations which offer help and support in the region is available at www.northumbria.police.uk
Teenagers can also get general information and advice on issues that can affect them on the national campaign website by visiting www.direct.gov.uk/thisisabuse