The law on sex, confidentiality, sexual abuse and exploitation.
The law on sex
It is legal for you to consent to have sex from the age of 16. In Northern Ireland, you have to be 17. Gay sex is legal if you're both 16 in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland the age is 17. The law also says you must have sex in private and not in public places. As long as girls are over 16 and both agree to it, lesbian sex is legal.
However, even if you are under 16 you can get free and confidential sexual health advice, information and treatment from a range of places.
Confidentiality means when you go to see a professional for any health issue, including sexual health they will not share the information you give them with anyone else, if they think you are fully capable of understanding the treatment, and any possible consequences.
A doctor, nurse or other health professional seeing you for sexual health information, advice, contraception, screening for STIs, or information and referral for abortion may ask you if you wish to inform a parent, carer or other trusted adult.
However, if you do not wish to inform an adult, they will respect your wishes and still offer you treatment.
A professional may be required to break confidentiality if they think you or someone else is at significant risk of harm. However, they will not break confidentiality without informing you first.
Some GP surgeries may not see young people confidentially for sexual health treatment. If you are concerned about whether you will receive a confidential service from your GP or any other service you can telephone them before attending and ask (without giving your name!) if they see young people confidentially for sexual health treatment.
All the services that have the KYPF Kitemark have to have a clear confidentiality Policy, and should all display a confidentiality statement such as this:
- We provide a confidential service to all young people attending this service, including under 16's. This means that you can tell others about this visit, but we won't.
The only reason why we might have to consider passing on confidential information would be to protect you or someone else from very serious harm, however we will always try to discuss this with you first.
If you have attended any health service and are worried that your information may have been shared, or you were not seen at a service because you were under 16 and wishing to attend without an adult, you have the right to complain
Sexual abuse and exploitation
No-one has the right to force you into having sex if you do not want to.
If you have been sexually abused, raped or pushed into having sex you don’t have to deal with it on your own, you can get confidential help and support from a range of agencies. You can talk to someone who will listen and support you – you do not automatically have to inform the Police of an incident.
You can talk to someone in the following services for confidential support:
- School nurse
- Young people's drop-in
If you require immediate support, you can contact one of the national helplines or one of the local support agencies listed below who can offer one to one counselling and support:
Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (KRASACC)
Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre is for female and male survivors of sexual abuse or domestic violence, aged 16 and over who live within Kirklees. The service is also open to family members and partners of survivors of abuse. The sexual abuse or domestic violence may be a recent event or an experience that happened in the past. The Centre provides specialist counselling by appointment only, and support services such as confidential helpline. The centre is wheelchair accessible. All services at the centre are free and confidential.
The STAR Project
The STAR Project is available to females and males, aged 14 and over, who have suffered a recent rape or sexual assault. All clients must live in the West Yorkshire area. Clients do not have to report the incident to the Police in order to access the service. The project is not designed to support young people or adults who were abused as children.
Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) have a safety centre to help children stay safe online. If someone has acted inappropriately towards you or towards another child or young person which has made you or them feel uncomfortable then this can be reported by visiting the website. More information on what inappropriate behaviour is can be found on the site and there is a link which can be used to report this behaviour.