Age of consent

Consent is when a person freely gives their permission or agrees to something. This decision needs to have been made without being:

  • pressured or bullied
  • given drugs or alcohol to change their decision
  • or, otherwise manipulated.

At what age can I legally have sex?

This is also known as the ‘age of consent’.

At the age of 16 you can consent to sex with males or females in England and Wales.

What can happen if I have underage sex?

It is a criminal offence (sexual assault) if you have sex with someone when you or they are under the age of 16, even if you have both given consent. In the eyes of the law you are unable to consent to sex when under the age of 16.

What is the definition of sex in this context?

‘Sex’ means penetrative sex, oral sex or masturbating together.

Useful Resources

Fumble refer to themselves as the ‘digital sex ed resource for the 21st Century’. They aim to ‘create exciting, reliable, relatable digital content on intimacy, relationships, identity, health and wellbeing. A happy, healthy digital world of sex ed: by young people, for young people.

Brook are an organisation that aim to empower young people to make decisions relating to their sexual health and their wellbeing more generally. They offer a wide range of information on topics such as sex, contraception, STIs, etc. They also have a useful search tool that allows you to locate sexual health services near you, for example STI clinics and places offering free contraception.

The Mix provide essential support to under 25s on a wide range of issues, including sex and relationships, mental health, and financial advice. They also operate a number of advice services including a one-to-one chat available 7 days a week so young people can contact them about any issues that may be troubling them.