Know Your Rights!
I’m sure you’ve got a pretty good idea of what things you probably shouldn’t be doing and what things other people shouldn’t be doing to you. But do you know exactly what the law says and how it relates to you? There are loads of different laws that are there to protect young people and also some laws that make young people take responsibility for their actions. We’ve added this section to help give you a bit of a snapshot of your rights as a young person and exactly what you can be accountable for.
Age of criminal responsibility
10 years old is the age of criminal responsibility. Basically once you reach this age, people expect you to take responsibility for your actions….this includes getting punished for them.
Age of consent
The law (according to the Sexual Offences Act 2003) says that anyone under the age of 16 cannot consent to sexual activity. The law says that someone of this age cannot consent and therefore there is NO defence for anyone who is having sex with someone they know is under 16. Anyone who is doing this may be prosecuted. Even if both people are under the age of 16, you can be prosecuted. This might include being put on the sex offenders register and getting a criminal record.
If someone is sexually touching a person under 16 years old or asking them to do a sexual act, this is against the law and the person can be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
If someone is acting in sexual way to a person under 13 years old or asking them to do a sexual activity, this is against the law and the person can be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. There are NO defences in court if the young person is under 13 years old and the other person can be prosecuted. This person can still be prosecuted even if they are under 16 or even under 13 too.
An adult, who makes contact with a young person to have a sexual relationship with them, is breaking the law according to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
If anyone is mean to another person based on ethnicity, race or sexuality, this is against the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and they can be prosecuted.
Someone who is cyberbullying (bullying using technology) another person can be prosecuted according to the Malicious Communications Act 1988.
'Sexting' (sending a sexual photo of yourself or someone else via text) is against the law as whoever has that picture on their phone, is technically in possession of an indecent image of a child. If the people involved in sexting are under 18, this is illegal (even if the person is your boyfriend or girlfriend). This means that person can be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.