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To Sam

Could i go to jail or get in big trouble?

Ive known this guy sense i was 7 and have been going out with him for 6 years. Neither of my parents know that he exists. About two years ago we had sex, and at the time i was 14 and he was 15. Then a few months ago he moved to England. We now sext eachother to keep our friendship together.
Meanwhile though Ive been with this 21 year old guy and we have done it once. I felt bad after and im not sure why.
Both guys are really, really nice and didnt force me into anything. But yesterday my mum told me that even if two people under 16 wanted to have sex its still rape, and that if i send naked pictures that i would be down as a sex offender because its seen as child porn.
Is all this true? and will i or the other guys get into trouble?
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter, you’ve asked some really important questions and I can see how it might be quite worrying for you not knowing the answers. Although I can’t give you specific legal advice I can tell you some general information,

There is something called the “age of consent” which is basically when the law says someone is old enough to agree to have sex. This means that technically anyone who is having sex under the age of 16 is breaking the law – even if both people are under 16 and both want to do it. That said, it’s fair to say that this law generally isn’t used against young people in those situations unless at least one of the people involved is 12 or younger or unless someone is being forced against their will.

The law is there to stop adults taking advantage of young people and having sex with them before they are ready or when they don’t really want to. You said you’ve had sex with a 21 year old recently - he is definitely breaking the law. As an adult he would know that he is doing something wrong so he is doing that willingly. It is important to remember that you have not done anything wrong.

Part of the reason the law exists is because even if an adult doesn’t physically force someone to have sex, a lot of the time they can influence young people into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise have done. It sounds like you regret having sex with him now - and this could be for any number of reasons, only you would know - but perhaps you could consider whether one of those reasons was that you didn’t feel ready to have sex with him at this time.

If you’re ever wondering whether a relationship with an older person is right then just remember that it’s quite unusual for an adult of that age to want to be close friends (or more) with someone a lot younger, unless they want something in return. You should definitely be asking questions if they buy you gifts or spend lots of money on you – ask yourself what is it they want?

As for sending naked pictures – this is always a risky thing to do because once those pictures are in someone else’s hands, there’s no control over who gets to see them. Strictly speaking if you follow the letter of the law, it would be illegal to send naked pictures of yourself as you are under 18. Once again though if it was something you were doing between you and another young person (like your boyfriend/girlfriend) then it would be unlikely that you’d ever get in trouble with the police for that.

If you were to send pictures of yourself to an adult, and that adult was caught with those images then they would get into a lot of trouble themselves – and really that would be their fault because just as they know it’s illegal to have sex with someone under-age, they would also know it’s wrong to keep inappropriate photos.

Just a word of caution – we’re not legal experts here at ChildLine so this is all for general guidance only. If you have some specific legal questions about sex, the age of consent or anything else then you could try talking to the Children’s Legal Centre – they are a free service that can give young people expert advice on a whole range of legal issues.

Thanks again for your letter, take care.


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