Consent and Young People

Consent and Young People

The legal age for children and young people to consent to sex is 16, regardless of sexual orientation.

However, young people are unlikely to be prosecuted for mutually agreed sexual activity where there is no evidence of exploitation. 

The law assumes that children under the age of 13 do not have the capacity to consent to sex and this would be classed as statutory rape.

It is illegal for an adult who is in a position of trust to a child or young person under the age of 18, such as a teacher or carer, to have sex with them.

The law covers all intercourse or sexual touching of any part of a child’s body, either clothed or unclothed.

It is also against the law to persuade a child to take part in sexual activity, to engage in sexual activity in their presence, to cause them to watch a sexual act (including videos, photographs or on websites) or to arrange to meet them following sexual grooming.

This does not mean that a young person cannot access support.  They have a right to confidential advice on contraception, pregnancy and abortion, as well as accessing sexual violence services.

When a case goes to court, the prosecution do not have to prove consent, only that the offence took place.

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