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Is it always harmful for young people to be involved in sexual behaviour?

Is it always harmful for young people to be involved in sexual behaviour?

The time when people are changing from children into young adults is called adolescence.

During this time, people do a lot of growing and developing.

Our bodies are going through all kinds of changes, including how we look and feel. And our hormones and brains are changing in ways that affect our relationships. It’s also a time when we have a lot of new experiences. For some people, this can include exploring their sexuality.

It can be exciting to learn more about your sexuality and explore it. But it’s important to make sure you and other people are acting in a safe way.

Some people develop and explore their sexuality faster or slower than others. So what feels right for you may not be right for everyone else.

It’s okay to feel unsure about your sexuality and how you want to explore it. Maybe speak to someone you trust about what’s on your mind. Or you could read some of the information about sex and sexual development on our page on safe spaces to learn about sex.

Safe spaces to learn about sex

Find safe spaces where you can learn more about sex, love and relationships.

Read more

The most important thing to remember is this:

If you’re exploring any sexual activity, make sure that everyone involved feels comfortable about it. Make sure they’re consenting (agreeing) to it. To learn more about what consent means, see our consent page.

Enthusiastic consent

Find out what consent means, and how to make sure everyone involved in a sexual activity is giving their enthusiastic consent.

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It’s also really important to know what the law says about young people and sexual behaviour, so you can make sure you’re being safe. Read more on our sex and the law page.

Sex and the law

Find out what the law says about sex and what this means for you.

Read more

So what sexual activities are we talking about? It could be holding hands, kissing, sending sexual messages or having other kinds of sexual contact.

Here are some examples of sexual actions you might feel happy to do during your teenage years:

  • sending flirty messages to someone the same age – if both of you consent to it and feel happy and comfortable about it
  • showing affection and being physically intimate, for example by kissing, hugging and holding hands – if both of you consent and feel happy and comfortable doing it
  • over-16s: being sexually active and trying things out sexually, including touching each other, oral sex and penetrative sex–if both of you consent and feel happy and comfortable doing it
  • exploring your sexuality and the ways you’re attracted to people
  • reading online advice and information about sex and relationships
  • masturbating at home, when you’re alone in a private space, for example in the bathroom or bedroom

Not having sexual feelings, or choosing not to try things out sexually, is also completely normal.

Are you struggling?

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