Sex and consent

A rape awareness video for men

It’s important that your teenager is aware of the laws about sex and consent, and you can talk to them about this. Teenagers who talk to their parents about sex and relationships are more likely to be responsible in their relationships and to wait longer to have sex for the first time. 

If you are unclear, please read our ‘Rape & sexual assault - the law’ page.

Some suggestions for talking to your teenager about sex and the law

  • They can say ‘no’ to someone who is touching them or approaching them in a way that makes them feel unhappy or uncomfortable and they should tell someone and ask for help.
  • Young people cannot legally consent to sex until they are 16. It is illegal to have sex with anyone under the age of 16. It doesn’t need to be full sexual intercourse.  If you are under 16 it is against the law for anyone even to kiss or touch you in a ‘sexual’ area of your body (even if you consent to it).
  • In real life young people who are under 16 do have relationships with each other. If both young people are about the same age, and if neither of them is putting pressure on the other one to do something they do not want to do, it is unlikely anyone will be prosecuted.
  • If you are 15 or less, the person who you have sex with will be breaking the law.
  • If someone of any age has sex with a child under 13 they will be guilty of rape and could go to prison for a long time. 
  • Taking, holding or sharing “indecent” materials via the internet or on mobile phones is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Images most commonly being shared include boys exposing themselves or masturbating, girls that have removed items of clothing as well as sexual acts that could be considered as pornographic material. 
  • If they are posting sexual videos or photos of themselves online or via their phone, they are passing over control to whoever the recipient is. Once that message has been sent, there is no way of retrieving it and it could be exploited by paedophiles or sexual predators.
  • Young people have been blackmailed with their own pictures and paedophiles have also been found to pose as the person in the picture to trap other victims.
  • Encourage your child to report any incidents of sexual bullying whether they are involved or not. 
  • Let your teenager know that they do not have to feel forced into doing anything they are not comfortable with, and they can come and talk to you if they feel pressured.
  • Explain you understand that drinking, trying drugs or having sex may be a part of teenage life but that, if they experiment, they must be responsible and avoid taking undue risks. Unprotected and early sex often happens for the first time when a young person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Most who have sex under the influence admit that they regret what happened.

Is my teenager in an abusive relationship?

Could your teen be in an abusive relationship? The Parent Channel look at the warning signs that may be symptomatic of controlling or aggressive behaviour and the ways in which you can support your teen and help them to stay safe.


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