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To Sam

have i broken the law

i had sex at the age of 14, i used contraception and i am not pregnant but will i have to go to prison if the police find out? please help me i am scared and i cant tell my parents.
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Sam

Hi

Thank you for your message, it sounds like you are feeling scared as you have had sex at the age of 14. I am pleased to hear that you used contraception as this helps decrease the chance of getting pregnant and also using condoms can help prevent getting any sexually transmitted diseases. It is also great that you are considering the law and talking to me about this.

The age of consent for sex is 16 in the UK, which is the age that you are legally allowed to have sex. The law does see it as a criminal offence if you have underage sex. The law isn't trying to make life difficult. It is there to protect young people.

It is unlikely that you would go to prison. However because the age of consent is 16 it is against the law for someone over the age of 16 to have sex with someone younger. Everyone is ready for sex at different ages, but the law has to set an age limit so that it protects those who are most vulnerable.

Young people who are under 16 do have relationships with each other. If both young people are about the same age, and if neither of them is putting pressure on the other one to do something they do not want to do, the law is not intended to be used against them. It is important that you know that you always have the right to say no to anything that you do not want to do and it is great that you are aware of having safe sex and taking responsibility.

You have been really brave to share your thoughts and feelings with me. You said that you can’t tell your parents. Talking to your parents about having sex can be quite scary but maybe it would be useful for you to think about if there is anyone in your family or friends that you could talk to about this.

You could also speak to a ChildLine counsellor about sex and the age of consent. ChildLine have a free helpline on 0800 1111 or there is a 1-2-1 chat service which is a bit like MSN messenger.

It might be helpful to have a look at the message boards on the ChildLine website as there are other young people who have similar situations to yourself and it can be another good way of getting support.

Another website which offers information about contraception, pregnancy, sex and your rights is Brook which you may find helpful.

Take care

Sam

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