Friends and other children

  • In Wales, your rights are there to make sure that you are protected from harm
  • Your rights and the law don’t really play a big part in your friendships with other children if things are going well
  • Your rights, and the law, are important if you are being treated badly by other children – or if you are treating someone else badly

Your right to privacy means that the law won’t tell you how to be friends with someone, or whether you have to be friends with someone. The only reason the law might affect you if you and your friends together are making life hard for someone else.

If your friends or other children are making life difficult for you, perhaps you are being bullied or hurt by other children, or you are being treated differently and unfairly for some reason, then the law can help.

If you’re being bullied at school, the head teacher and the teachers should deal with this and make sure that the behaviour policy is followed. Most schools in Wales have to have a behaviour policy which deals with bullying.  If the bullying refers to your race or if you’re being hurt, you might want to think about telling the police because the people involved could be breaking the law. You will need to tell someone what is happening if you want them to help you. If you don’t want to tell a teacher directly, you could tell your parent or carer, or some other adult you trust who can help you talk to the school about what is happening.

If you’re being bullied out of school, you can try and deal with it yourself, by telling the other child to stop. If this doesn’t work, your first step is to tell someone what is happening. It may be that another adult – maybe your parents – can talk to the child’s parents. If the bullying doesn’t stop, you may need to take other action. Depending on what the other child is doing, he or she may be breaking the law.

If someone has hurt you, even if it isn’t bullying, they may have broken the law. Being hurt can be something physical, like being hit or cut, or it can be emotional. Emotional harm could happen if someone is threatening you or bullying you without physically hurting you.

The law won’t protect you from a broken heart if you split up, but if a boyfriend or girlfriend hurts you physically, or is threatening you and forcing you to do things, then they are abusing you. This is breaking the law. You may not want to tell someone about this. Your partner may threaten you not to tell someone what’s happening. If you don’t tell anyone, the longer this behaviour will go on. The sooner you do tell someone, the sooner you can be protected.

On social media, and online generally (in chat rooms and gaming) people aren’t always who they say you are. If you haven’t met someone in real life, it can be difficult to know who you’re really agreeing to be friends with. The law won’t tell you who you can and can’t be friends with online, but if someone is trying to be friends with you or other children because he or she wants to hurt you, then the police may be involved. Find out more about your rights online here.

You can send pictures of yourself to your friends and to other children, using your phone or a tablet or computer, but once the picture has been sent, you have no way of getting it back. The people you send the picture to could show other people, or post the picture online, even if you didn’t want that to happen. Depending on what’s in the pictures, perhaps you’re being asked to take a picture of part of your body, the person or people asking you to send the pictures could be breaking the law.

You have to make a decision about whether to go along with this or not. If your friends are trying to make you do something that breaks the law, like stealing or hurting someone, then you could get into trouble with the police if you do what they want. If you do get into trouble, your rights – and the law – will make sure you are treated with respect. You should be able to tell your side of the story and explain what happened, but if you have broken the law, you may still get into trouble, even if you were being encouraged by your friends. If you’re part of a gang that breaks the law a lot, you could get in trouble, even if you weren’t the person who broke the law. If you know what’s going on, the police can deal with you as if you had broken the law yourself. You can find out more about this here.






We are very grateful to Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for generously giving their time and expertise to check the content of this section of the website. October 2018.