Consent – young people
What is consent?
Consent is when someone willingly agrees to something. This agreement should be clearly expressed and it should be voluntary. The person should have a good knowledge of what they are agreeing to and the potential consequences. There should to be a safe option to say no or yes.
Sexual consent refers to someone agreeing to do something sexual with or for someone else. This should be an active process where everyone involved has a clear say and space to make a decision in free will.
All participating people have a responsibility to make sure clear consent has taken place. The best way to do this is to ask clear questions and get clear answers. The absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes’.
No one should feel forced, pressurised or manipulated.
People may not be able to fully consent if they are drunk or on drugs, if they are physically or mentally incapacitated, or if they do not understand what is being asked of them.
If someone has said ‘yes’ and then changes their mind to say ‘no’, this needs to be respected.
If someone agrees to some sexual acts, it does not mean that they have consented to other sexual acts.
If someone violates someone else’s consent it is a big deal and can lead to criminal charges, cause trauma and distress, and ruin relationships.
What is the age of consent?
In the UK, you can legally consent to any sexual activity from the age of 16.
It is important to remember that although you may be 16 it doesn’t necessarily mean you should feel ready to have sex or that you have to have sex.
Everyone feels ready at different times and only you can and should decide whether you are ready or not. You should never decide to have sex because you feel pressured.
If you are worried about something, worried about a friend, or would like more advice on this topic, then you could speak to an adult you trust, such as a family member, school teacher or your school nurse. You can book an appointment with your school nurse at school and speak to them in confidence.