- Some adults have a responsibility to behave in a particular way with you because they are providing you with a public service
- Your rights mean that these people have to respect your rights, treat you with dignity, and not abuse you or be violent towards you
- Other adults you might know don’t have these duties, but if they do treat you cruelly or abuse you, they can be punished
The law doesn’t tell people how to behave in their ‘private relationships’ – but it will step in to stop someone who is being cruel, or violent or abusive to someone else. If an adult (who isn’t either of your parents or someone else who should be caring for you) is behaving like this towards you, they can be punished. Social workers, and may be even the police, can step in to make sure you are protected and treated properly.
Some adults you meet as you grow up will be working in a public service like school, hospital, or even the library. They are carrying out work for the Welsh government or for the local authority. Your rights mean that these adults have extra duties to treat you properly and to respect your rights. Some of these adults may also be in a ‘position of trust’ to you. This means that the adult has some kind of power over you. This power will be positive in most situations. People in positions of trust to you include teachers, social workers, doctors and nurses, youth workers and the police. They must not act in a way that abuses that trust or power.
If an adult you know is abusing you, either hurting you somehow or forcing you to touch him or her or have sex, he or she is breaking the law. If the adult has told you that what he or she is doing is a secret, and that you shouldn’t tell anyone then it is probably wrong. It might be hard to tell someone what is happening, but you should try and tell someone you trust.
Even if you want to be in this relationship, if you are under 16, and the other person is over 18, he or she could be breaking the law.
If the adult is someone in your family who you live with, or someone you are (or have been) in a serious relationship with, and is controlling you and threatening you so you can’t live properly, then they are breaking the law.
If someone is ‘in a position of trust’ then they shouldn’t try and have a relationship with you that includes having sex with you. This could be a teacher or a foster carer, a social worker or a youth worker. It could also include anyone like a sports coach or a priest or vicar at church. The only relationship they should have with you is what’s appropriate for their role at work. It doesn’t matter if you want the relationship too. If someone is in a position of trust to you, they are breaking the law if you are under 18.
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.