Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Can a 15 year old have consensual sex with a 19 year old?

Hi is it illegal for a 15 yera old girl to have sex with a 19 year old male where hoth hve given consent? what will happen to the 19 year old if he is reported?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

While the UK has very clear laws about the age at which someone can agree, or consent, to have sex, the potential consequences for young people of different ages or levels of understanding isn’t always clear. In the UK the law says the age of sexual consent, or agreeing to have sex, is 16 years old. This means that anyone that has sex with someone who is under the age of 16 could get into trouble, although there are some exceptions.

Consent is about more than just a person’s age too. Other things that are important in deciding whether someone can give consent includes whether they are using alcohol or drugs at the time, whether they are fully conscious and aware of what is happening, or whether the person who is asking them to have sex is in a position of power, such as a teacher or sports coach. Also, being in a relationship with someone does not automatically count as giving consent.

if two young people under the age of 16 had consensual sex it could be unlikely the Police would take any action to punish them. Each case is different depending on the ages and capacities of the young people. The consequences concerning the law and consent when two young people are close in age can be less certain. If this were reported to the Police they might want to speak with both young people, and their carers, but there might not be any other legal consequences.

If someone over the age of 16 has sex with someone under the age of 16 they would be more likely to end up in trouble, although this can also depend on the ages of the young people involved. However, where the age gap is larger this can mean tougher penalties for the older person. If someone over the age of 18 has sex with someone under the age of 16 then this is viewed as being more serious in the eyes of the law. The 19-year-old could get into trouble, as the age gap is seen as being large enough for this to suggest the 15-year-old could have been coerced, or groomed, into having sex.

And remember, no matter how old you are sex should always be consensual and you are allowed to say ‘no’. If you want to speak to someone about any of these issues, then remember the Childline counsellors are there for you. You could also look at the message boards to get advice and support from other young people who may have been through a similar thing.

Take care,


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter