What is the law on sex?
The law says it's legal for you to consent to have sex from the age of 16. In Northern Ireland, you have to be 17. Gay sex is legal if you're both 16 or over in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland it's 17. And 18 in Jersey. The law also says you must have sex in private. As long as girls are over 16 and both agree to it, lesbian sex is legal.
Even if you are under 16 you can get free and confidential advice about sex, contraception and abortion at anytime. Visit your local doctor or young person's clinic to find out more
Why is it illegal to have sex under 16?
The laws on sex are there to protect young people from abuse or from having sex before they are ready. Different countries do have different laws, but in this country it is considered that people are not ready to have sex until they are 16. You might think it's unfair, but laws are there to protect you and not to try and spoil your fun. Think carefully before you have sex for the first time and whether it is really right for you as many people do regret having sex too young. If you do decide you are ready for sex then always use a condom to protect against unplanned pregnancies and STIs.
And remember you can get free and confidential advise about sex, contraception and abortion even if you are under 16.
Will doctors show my records/information to my parents?
No. Doctors and nurses have a strict rule which says they have to keep all patient records and information completely private, even if you are under 16. Even if they think you are in serious danger they must talk to you first.
I've been forced to have sex.
What can I do?
You don't have to deal with it on your own. There is lots of help available that will help you decide what you want to do next.
The Bridge is an integrated, comprehensive, sexual assault support service for men, women and children in the Avon and Somerset area. Tel 0117 3426999 www.turntothebridge.org