Age is just a number, right?

Wrong!

It can feel flattering when someone older pays you attention but although it can feel ‘right’, sex and relationships with people who are very different in age can cause real harm.

You should know that it’s illegal for an adult to have a sexual relationship or sexual activity with someone under 16 (or with someone under 18 if they are in a position of responsibility, like a teacher or a coach).

The law is like this because it recognises the harm that young people often suffer, even if at first they don’t realise it, when they have a sexual connection with an adult.

Your feelings might be strong but you don’t have to act on them. They carry big risks for the happiness of your future self – and that’s important!

Remember, whatever happens, the adult is responsible – it’s not your fault. If you feel unsafe you can report to CEOP.

Wondering about a relationship with someone much older?

Here are some questions worth thinking about:

  • Being older gives people more power.

    Whether that's because they seem cool, have money or access to alcohol.  Can you ever be sure that they aren't taking advantage of the age difference to draw you to them?

  • Would you be as attracted if the age difference wasn’t there?

    Someone older may have more status or power - lots of people ‘fancy’ one of their teachers but most of the time this is because they’re your teacher – they wouldn’t be half as attractive if you were the same age as them and their next door neighbour!

  • Why isn't he or she focussing on people their own age?

    Is it because they’re mainly attracted to people younger than them? (and if they are, isn’t that a bit creepy?!)

Worried about someone you're involved with?

CEOP

CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that someone they’ve met is trying to abuse them.

If you’ve met someone online, or face to face, and they are putting you under pressure to have sex or making you feel uncomfortable you should report to CEOP.

This might be someone:

  • Making you have sex when you donʼt want to
  • Chatting about sex online
  • Asking you to meet up face to face if youʼve only met them online
  • Asking you to do sexual things on webcam
  • Asking for sexual pictures of you
  • Making you feel worried, anxious or unsafe

If this is happening to you, or you’re worried that it might be, report to CEOP.

ChildLine

ChildLine is a free helpline for children and young people. You can contact ChildLine about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Whatever your worry, it's better out than in.

ChildLine is a private and confidential service. Confidential means not telling anyone else what you’ve said. This means that whatever you say stays between you and ChildLine.

They would only need to tell someone else if:

  • You ask them to
  • They believe your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger
  • You are being hurt by someone in a position of trust who has access to other children like a teacher or police officer
  • You tell them that you are seriously harming another young person

Call them on 0800 1111. The number won’t appear on your phone bill.

You can also visit www.childline.org.uk to speak to a counsellor online.