Everything you need to know about bullying, sexual exploitation, abusive relationship and forces marriage


Bullying is when someone says something or does something to upset or hurt you. Bullying isn't your fault and there is nothing wrong with you - no one deserves to be bullied.

If you or a friend are being bullied, the best thing you can do is tell someone about it. That could be a friend, a teacher, your parents or another adult that you trust. They will support you and help get the bullying to stop. If you are being bullied at school or on a school bus, your school has a duty to protect you and make sure you are safe, so make sure you talk to someone at school.

Most bullying happens in person, someone calling you names, being mean to you, possibly being physically threatened and hurt.

Bullying can also happen in other ways, though, such as through text messages or online.

There are things you can do to stop people bullying you through your phone or online and you can find more information here:

Sexting is also a form of bullying through your phone or online. Be careful never to take photographs or videos of yourself that you wouldn't want your school or family to see and if someone tries to get you to do it, that's bullying.

You should also tell a trusted adult if someone sends you a sexually explicit picture or video of someone else and never send such images on to anyone else. For more information on sexting and keeping yourself safe:

Sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation is when someone forces you to engage in sexual activity against your wishes or by buying you things in return for doing it.

Any young person could be a victim of this kind of abuse, though it is more likely to be those who are more vulnerable - feeling bad about themselves or with no family or friends supporting them.

This kind of abuse can cause long-term physical and emotional harm. It can also disrupt your life by making you less able to learn and pass your exams and cause problems with family and friends.

If you think you or a friend might be at risk of sexual exploitation, talk to someone you trust. You could speak to a teacher, youth worker, school nurse, your GP a parent or carer or a friend's parents.

Free confidential support lines
  • Phone 0808 800 5000 - NSPCC (freephone)
  • Phone 0800 1111 - Childline (freephone)
How to get help and find out more

Abusive relationships

If you are in a relationship with someone, you should feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself. But if your relationship leaves you feeling scared, intimidated or controlled, it's possible you're in an abusive relationship.

The abuse could be emotional, physical or sexual - anything that is threatening and controlling towards you. You don't have to put up with it, it's not a normal part of having a relationship and there are people who can help.

If you're concerned you or a friend might be in an abusive relationship, you can find more information and details of who can help here:

You want to talk to someone urgently

If you need to speak to someone urgently, you can talk to a trusted adult or the police

  • Phone 0800 11 11 - Childline
  • Phone 0808 2000 247 - Refuge (for girls)
  • Phone 0808 801 0327 - Mens advice line (for boys)
If you think you might be abusive

If you think you might be being abusive to your girlfriend or boyfriend, it's never too late to stop and get support to help you to change. You can find out more whether what you are doing is abuse here:

Or you can get help by speaking to someone:

  • Phone 0800 11 11 - Childline

Forced marriage

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (e.g threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (e.g if you're made to feel like you're bringing shame on your family). It is not the same as an arranged marriage which is when the families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner, but the choice of whether to enter the marriage is left to both people.

Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence and child abuse

If you are worried that you might be being forced into marriage or are worried about it happening to a friend, you can get help to stop it