The Home Office has announced that it is extending its definition of domestic violence to include young people aged 16 and 17.
The change to the official definition of domestic violence used across government will aim to increase awareness that young people in this age-group do experience domestic violence and abuse. This follows on from the British Crime Survey for 2009/10 which found that 16-19-year-olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner.
The current definition of domestic violence is: "any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse [psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional] between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality".
This definition is not a statutory or legal definition; therefore, any change to the definition would not mean a change in the law. It is used by Government departments as the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the UK Border Agency. The new definition will be implemented by March 2013.
In January 2011 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that domestic violence in homelessness cases can include psychological as well as physical abuse.
A Young People's panel set up by the NSPCC was also launched today. It will help to inform the government's ongoing work to tackle domestic violence.
Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention Jeremy Browne said: "It is vital that victims themselves, and those supporting them, are clear what constitutes abuse so they seek the support they need early on and don't suffer in silence.
"By engaging young people in the decisions that affect them we will improve the services being delivered and ensure communities are working together to challenge and tackle this dreadful form of abuse."