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Underage sex

As the age of consent in the UK is 16 years old, underage sex involves someone that is 15 and below. In the eyes of the law, someone under the age of 16 (and, in certain circumstances, 18) is regarded as a child. This is to protect children and young people from harm.

Sexual feelings affect virtually everyone from (at least) puberty onwards. In the UK, the average age as which puberty usually begins is 12 to 13 for girls, and 13 to 14 for boys.

  • It is a criminal offence for anyone to be involved in any sexual act (sexual intercourse, sexual touching, kissing, etc) with anyone under the age of 13, whether the young person agrees or not – on the basis that anyone under 13 lacks the capacity to give valid consent to any sexual act.
  • It is a criminal offence for anyone who is 16 or older to have any kind of sexual contact with someone aged 13, 14 or 15.
  • It is also a criminal offence for both girls and boys aged 13, 14 and 15 to have consensual sex (either regular intercourse or oral sex) with anyone else aged 13, 14 or 15. This applies whether they are the initiating partner or the consenting partner.
  • It is a criminal offence for anyone in a position of trust (such as a teacher) to have sexual contact with someone under the age of 18.

It is a criminal offence to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 16, even if they’ve given consent.

If you think someone is in immediate danger, call the Police now on 999. If you would like to report a concern, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you’re worried about a child, but unsure, contact NSPCC or Barnardo’s.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing abuse and needs support, there are many organisations in the UK which provide confidential help and advice.