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Sex and the law

Sex and the law

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

In this topic


What does the law mean for me?


What the law says about sexual behaviour offline


What the law says about sexual behaviour online

Frequently asked questions

What happens if other people, like my friends, find out about what I have done?

We know that the possibility that other people may find out about what has happened can be worrying. You may have a lot of ‘what if’ questions going round your mind – these can be distressing and make it hard to see the ‘bigger picture’.

It is important to try and focus on the here and now, taking each day as it comes. You might find trying a grounding exercise or breathing technique helpful – you can learn more about these on our managing difficult emotions page. It is may also be helpful to talk to a trusted adult about how you are feeling. This could be a parent, carer, grandparent, aunt, uncle or teacher.

You can contact us by using our email service to talk about what you are going through and how you are feeling.

If you need more support, check out our other helpful organisations page.

I’ve got into trouble for my sexual behaviour and now I’m worried about my future. Can you help me?

Living with uncertainty about the future can be stressful and scary. You are not alone – we are here to support you and guide you through this process. Young people who have got into trouble for their sexual behaviour can go on to live happy and successful lives, even if the police have been involved. Try not to think too far ahead, focus on the here and now and take one day at a time. If you are struggling, we have some simple strategies you could try to help you manage difficult emotions.

You can also get help or support with any worries you may have by using our email service anonymously. The person you’re contacting won’t know who you are. You can also contact other organisations who support young people who are struggling with their feelings.

How can you help me change my sexual behaviour?

You are likely feeling a mix of emotions about your behaviour and what you may have done. You may be unsure if you have caused harm to someone else or yourself. We can talk together, to understand what has happened and why. We can help you set goals, which you can work towards to help change your behaviour.

We also can help you develop a safety plan and put boundaries around yourself to prevent you getting into trouble again.

Finally, we can help you focus on creating and building a positive life to move forward, be happy and achieve success. If you want to read more about this and learn how to set yourself goals, this can be found on our page, building a good life.

If you feel ready to talk to us, you can use our email service. The person you’re contacting won’t know who you are.  

We also encourage you to speak with someone you are close to and who is a safe, trusted adult about what has happened and how you are feeling. You can also look at our pages which help support you with what to do if you have harmed someone sexually, or online sexual behaviour.

I’m in trouble with the police for my sexual behaviour, what will happen to me?

You may feel worried and upset that you have got into trouble with the police. We can help support you with your situation.

When a person is in trouble with the police there can be different outcomes, depending on your individual situation, including your age and the behaviour you carried out. Every situation is different and if you would like help to understand more about this and speak to someone privately, you can use our  email service. The person you’re contacting won’t know who you are.  

Check out our page on what to do if you’re in trouble with the police to learn more about this topic. It can be difficult or feel overwhelming to read about the police and legal processes, so we encourage you to get the support of a safe, trusted adult you are close to when looking at this information.

It also is really important that you look after yourself and get help if you need it. You can get support from Young Minds, Kooth or Childline. You can also look at our pages on dealing with regrets about harmful sexual behaviour and managing difficult emotions to find out more about how to manage any difficult feelings you may have.

Need urgent help?
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or a crime has been committed, call 999 straight away. Do not wait. Non emergency help can be found on our I need help now page or you can chat to an expert anonymous online.