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Sex, law and consent


Sexual consent is when you agree to be involved in sexual activities without feeling pressured, scared or drunk. Sexual consent relates to sex, touching, pictures or any sexual activity.

Sometimes it can be hard to know whether someone has consented and it can be confusing.

Some important things to remember are:

  • Consent is not permanent: if someone says yes to one thing that does not mean they consent to something else. People can stop consent at any time
  • Respect people's decisions: Its important that if someone does not want to do something, its important to support that decision and not to make them feel pressured or guilty
  • People can't consent when they're drunk, or they've taken drugs: Alcohol or drugs can affect people's judgements
  • Flirting is not the same as consenting: Remember, if you're not sure, it's important to ask for consent

Sex and the Law

It is illegal to have sex or do sexual things with anyone without someone's full consent.

The age of consent is 16. This means that its illegal to have sex with anyone who is under 16 years old, and this is the same no matter what your sexuality is. Remember that the law is there to protect you and not punish you. If you're both under 16 and you consent to doing things, its still against the law but it is unlikely you will be punished legally.

Worried about something?

If you're worried about your own behaviour or how someone else is behaving towards you, talk to your family or a professional you may have in your life, such as a teacher, doctor or social worker.

Alternatively you can contact Childline about anything, whatever your worry, via the  Childline website  or by phoning free of charge and anonymously on 0800 1111 (this number will not appear on your phone bill).

Report a problem

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (which is a command of the National Crime Agency) helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that they've met someone who is trying to abuse them. 

If you've met someone online or face-to-face who is putting you under pressure to have sex or making you feel uncomfortable, you should tell a trusted adult and report it to Child Exploitation and Online Protection or to the police.

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