This applies if you live in England, Wales, Scotland and the Channel Islands. If you live in Northern Ireland, the legal age – known as the age of consent – is 17. If you are over the age of 16 and having sex with someone younger than 16, you may be guilty of committing an offence. However if you and your partner are both under the age of 16, but no younger that 13, and are consenting to have sex, that is you both fully agree and understand what it is to be sexually active, it is unlikely you will be prosecuted. If you are unsure at all, please chat to an adult you trust about your relationship. This may be a parent, carer, guardian, school nurse, Dr or nurse at a sexual health clinic. Young people also have the right to say no to sex or any other behaviour that makes them uncomfortable. Abuse can be emotional, physical or sexual. Abuse can also take the form of neglect. It can happen in different types of relationships and is to do with power. Abuse of any kind in any relationship is never the fault of the person being abused. You can talk to someone in complete confidence at www.childline.org.uk. Information on the law and your rights is available at www.sccyp.org.uk Or from the Scottish Child Law Centre Freefone: 0800 328 8970 If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, maybe you should think about why you are having sex, do you really want to have sex? It is ok to say no, especially if you feel that you are not ready.
ABSTAINING FROM SEX
This website has a lot of information on it about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and contraceptives. One way that is almost guaranteed to protect you from most sexually transmitted infections and definitely from an unintended pregnancy is to abstain or not have sex at all. Despite what your friends may tell you, not every young person is sexually active, only one in three young people aged 16 have had sex. Being aged 16 or over does not mean that you have to be sexually active, choosing not have sex is a valid, acceptable, positive and responsible decision. Many young people wait until they are in a loving and stable relationship before having sex. A high number of people who had sex when they were younger report that they regretted the experience because they were not ready for it. If you feel that you are being pressurised into doing something that you would rather not do, talk it over with a friend or trusted adult.
ARE YOU READY FOR SEX?
Being ready means that you are emotionally prepared, and feel comfortable with your sexual orientation whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual. There are lots of ways of enjoying being together with someone that don’t involve sex, so you need to decide what’s right for you. This may mean talking it over with your partner and being prepared to take precautions against getting pregnant or from an infection. This means making sure that the girl is using some form of contraception and that condoms are used to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Abstaining from sex till you are older and more ready and prepared for the experience also means that you may actually enjoy it more. Having sex should be fun and enjoyable, you should feel that you respect and care for your partner and that they respect and care for you and that you are both ready. If you are not sure about having sex, ask yourself some questions first:
- Do you feel that you are being pressurised into having sex?
- Is it easier to say yes than to say no?
- Do you think that you will lose you boy/girlfriend if you don’t have sex?
- Do you think that you will need to be under the influence of drugs or drink before you can have sex?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then talk about it with someone you trust.
STAYING SAFE ONLINE
Computers and mobile phones are part of everyday life and help us all stay connected. But its important to stay safe and make sure you don’t share things that you later regret or could put you in danger. Check out these sites for information about staying safe online.