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To Sam

Parents arguing

Dear Sam,

On Sunday my friend's dad went out to a pub and got really drunk. When he came home her parents started arguing. Her mum had her dad pinned to the floor by the neck and he got up and punched her in the eye and gave her a black eye. My friend tried to hide all the phones so her mum couldn't ring the police (as they have had violent arguments before and the police have been involved) but her mum had already got to a phone and was ringing the police. Her dad then spent all Sunday night in a cell in the police station. My friend who is in year 7 and her sister in year 6 saw everything. She told me today in school. Now Social Services are involved and she and her sister could be taken away from their parents. She got home from school and her dad had gone. This is the second time her parents have split up and I am very worried about her as she could not stop crying today. Thank you for your help.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

First let me say how glad I am that you decided to write to me. It’s brilliant that you are thinking about how to support your friend.

It’s never okay for anyone to hit someone else. It’s also not right that your friend’s mum had pinned her dad by the neck. I can imagine your friend being really frightened of what might happen if the police came but it’s important to remember that the police are there to protect us and keep us safe no matter what. Your friend’s safety and the safety of her sister need to come above anything else.

It seems like your friend feels like she has to protect her parents, which is a natural way to feel, but your friend deserves to be supported and protected too. It’s not okay for your friend and her sister to be seeing such scary arguments. When there is aggression like that going on at home, it is classed as domestic violence. Another good website for anyone who wants to know more about domestic violence and what can be done about it is The Hideout.

It sounds like the idea of being taken away by social services is really scary for your friend, but social services are there to keep families safe. They will only want to take a young person out of their home if it is too unsafe for them to be there. Often they will decide to try and help young people and their parents stay together, and to make home a less frightening place to be.

It sounds hard for you to see your friend feeling so sad. It can be difficult to know what to say or do when a friend is upset, but often just being there to listen can help more than anything. It’s also really important to make sure that you take care of your own feelings when you are supporting somebody else. It’s okay to find something upsetting and want to talk it over in confidence with someone you trust.

Perhaps you could suggest that your friend contacts ChildLine. ChildLine counsellors are there to talk to children and young people confidentially about anything that might be on their minds. You would be very welcome to contact a counsellor as well if you wanted some support for yourself. You can contact a counsellor online by logging on for a 1-2-1 chat (which work like instant messenger), by calling for free on 0800 1111 or even by sending them an email.

Take care,


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