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There are possible defences if the sexual activity does not involve penetrative or oral sex.

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Each specifically states that it is not an offence provide information, advice and/or treatment if it is in order to protect the young person’s sexual health, physical safety or emotional wellbeing.

In each UK country, a man would commit rape if he intentionally penetrates with his penis the vagina, mouth or anus of another person, male or female, without that person’s consent or if they are under 13, as young people aged 12 and under are not legally able to give consent to any sexual activity.

Last updated April 2015 This factsheet summarises some of the key points of UK law relating to sexual behaviour. This factsheet is not currently available as a PDF.

RELATED FACTSHEET Sex and the Law, Northern Ireland (PDF) The age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16 for both men and women.

The age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16 for both men and women, so that any sexual activity between an adult and someone under 16 is a criminal offence.

The age of consent is the same regardless of gender or sexual orientation.Guidance from the Scottish Government acknowledges that not every case of sexual activity in under-16s will have child protection concerns, but young people may still be in need of support in relation to their sexual development and relationships.[2] A range of specific offences protect children under 13, who cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity.The maximum penalty could be life imprisonment for rape, sexual assault, sexual assault by penetration, or causing a young child to participate in sexual activity.However, Home Office guidance [1] is clear that there is no intention to prosecute teenagers under the age of 16 where both mutually agree and where they are of a similar age.It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 if the older person holds a position of trust (for example a teacher or social worker) as such sexual activity is an abuse of the position of trust.This therefore means that there is no statutory duty under criminal law to report to the police cases of sexual activity involving children under the age of 16 under articles 16 to 19 of the Order, where the other party is aged under 18.

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