Underage sex

Children aged under 13 having sex

A child under 13 is not legally capable of consenting to sexual activity.

All cases of children under the age of 13 years believed to be engaged in penetrative sexual relationships or activity should always be discussed with a nominated child protection lead in the organisation and referred to Family Services. There will always be reason to suspect that a child, whether male or female, who is engaging in sexual activity is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

Sexual activity with a child under 16 is also an offence. Where it is consensual it may be less serious than if the child were under 13, but may nevertheless have serious consequences for the welfare of the young person.

Children aged 13-15 having sex

In the case of sexual acitivity involving a child aged 13-15, discussion with other agencies and referral to children’s social care should be considered. Within this age range, the younger the child, the more likely it is that sexual activity will be a matter for concern. According to current Government guidance for health and social care professionals, although the age of consent is 16, it is not intended that the law should be used to prosecute mutually agreed teenage sexual activity between two young people of similar age, unless it involves abuse or exploitation.

The sexual exploitation of children is child sexual abuse and is defined by a broader context of abuse than formal ‘prostitution’; the full spectrum of sexually exploitative situations includes children and young people exchanging sex for accommodation, food, gifts, drugs and/or safety.

The professional should make an assessment of indicators of risk of harm and discuss their concerns with their nominated child protection lead and subsequently with other agencies as required. Where confidentiality needs to be preserved, a discussion can still take place without identifying the child. 

If you want to report any abuse or discuss concerns in relation to children and young people please contact socialservices@rbkc.gov.uk or tel: 020 7361 3013.

In an emergency call the Police on 999.