Ask Sam letter


To Sam


I would like to know where I can get help about being circumcised. I'm 13 years old and my parents are saying I have to get it done. But I don't want to. I can't find any information on who to talk to about this. My brother had his done when he was 10 by a doctor friend of the family. He was really upset about it and even now 6 years later he's still unhappy. I've read about a female version and they have a lot of help. But me and a lot of my school friends have said we don't want to have it done.

what do I do?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Circumcision is part of some cultures and religions, but like any belief or tradition it should be your choice whether you follow them or not. If someone who is old enough to understand what’s happening doesn’t want to be circumcised, doctors shouldn’t do this.

Circumcision in boys and girls is quite different, because of the differences between each sex. In boys the skin at the end of the penis is cut away. In girls it can involve the whole of their genitals being cut away and this can lead to infections, problems with having children, difficulty going to the toilet and sometimes even death. Circumcision of girls is illegal in the UK and in many countries around the world. It is also known as female genital mutilation, FGM, cutting or sunna.

Unlike with female circumcision, it’s currently not illegal for parents to have their male child circumcised in the UK. But this is being challenged more and more. Just because something isn’t illegal it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it if you don’t want to. There might be a lot of pressure put on you by family or by friends, but it’s okay to disagree.

One way you could make your feelings clear to your doctor is to write them a letter and ask for it to be included in your medical file. In this letter you could clearly state that you do not want to be circumcised and don’t give consent. This will make it more difficult for a doctor to go ahead with the procedure.

If your doctor is a family friend you can still contact a doctor that isn't connected to your family and let them know if there is something that is being planned for you. Writing this might be difficult so if there is an adult who you can trust then you could ask them to help you. The ChildLine counsellors would be also able to help you to do this if you wanted.

If you feel like you are being circumcised in a place that doesn’t feel right to you, or if the person performing it doesn’t seem like a doctor, then it’s okay to get help as soon as possible by calling 999.

You can also get support from Social services. They are there to make sure you are safe and being looked after properly. This can include times when you feel you're being made to do something which you feel is wrong.

You can speak with a teacher who you trust and they can speak with social services on your behalf if you like.  If social services are involved then it's possible for them to get an order that prevents any doctor from carrying out the circumcision. Involving social workers will not always mean your parents will get into trouble, or you will be taken away from them. ChildLine counsellors can help you get in touch with social services and to talk about what that might be like.

The British Medical Association is a group of doctors who give guidelines which you can read on how all doctors should act for issues like this. The General Medical Council oversees all doctors in the UK and they say that circumcision should only ever be performed by someone who has the skills and experience to do it. Friends of the family, even if they are doctors, should never perform a circumcision outside of their usual practice.

It’s quite complicated but if you want to read what the British Medical Association says about circumcision in boys you can do that here.

Thanks for your letter. It’s a really important issue and I hope you can get in touch with us so we can support you and help you find ways to cope.

Take care,


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