This page contains information and support regarding consent including reading, links, resources and access to free training commissioned by Buckinghamshire Council.
WHAT IS CONSENT?
Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
In terms of sexual consent it means to agree to have sex or engage in sexual activity. Sex or sexual activity can include kissing, sexual touching, oral, anal and vaginal sex with a penis or with any other type of object. Consent should be an ongoing conversation between those participating in sexual activity. No-one should be doing anything they do not wish to do or feel comfortable with. Engaging in a sexual act without consent is sexual assault or rape and it is illegal.
What is the definition by law?
You have to be 16 years old or older to consent to sexual activity.
If you are under the age of 13 you cannot give any form of consent.
Sending, receiving and creating nudes (indecent images) of under 18s is illegal, even if the images are self-taken with consent and sent to someone who has consented to receiving them. Asking for, creating, distributing and possessing nudes of someone under 18 is illegal. By law you need to be over 18 to send nudes. Sending nudes as an adult can have personal consequences. You must get consent before you press send. Not everyone wants a visual’
Consent in relation to sexual activity is defined in law: Section 74 of the Sexual Offence Act 2003.
Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he/they agrees by choice to that penetration and has the FREEDOM and CAPACITY to make that choice.
Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another.
Consent can be WITHDRAWN AT ANY TIME during sexual activity and each time activity occurs.
For more information about The Sexual Offences Act and Section 74 click here
The videos below, explain and discuss consent in a variety of ways. They are suitable for teenagers and adults.
The classic Tea video that explains consent using a cup of tea. An oldie but a goody.
Source “Thames Valley Police” Published on 16 November 2015
Deaf Health Charity explaining what is meant by consent. They also have a range of videos about sexual health and relationships.
Let’s Talk About…Sex & Consent: Young people talking about consent
Young people talking about “grey” areas in sexual consent that actually aren’t that grey at all.
Nathaniel Cole –Discussing consent and young men age 12-18.
- Mutual – all partners enthusiastically wanting and agreeing to the sexual act(s)
- Informed – all partners understanding what they are agreeing to and participating in
- Freely given – consent is given and respected, not taken, coerced, forced or pressured
- Communicated – either verbally or non verbally e.g. an active body
- Retractable – consent can be withdrawn at any time for any reason. Saying yes to something doesn’t mean saying yes to everything
- The law also says that to consent to sex a person must be over 16 and have the ability to make decisions for themselves
Consent is not
- involving threats, intimidation, coercion and pressure
- Assumed (even for long term partners)
- Drunk or High (partners must be capable of giving consent)
- A lack of resistance
- Muddled communications or misunderstandings
- Just about saying yes or no – someone doesn’t have to say the word NO to withhold permission, there are lots of ways they might say they don’t want to do something or have sex
How and when do I ask for consent?
Open communication is great for any relationship, it’s particularly important for sexual relationships.
It helps avoid boundaries being broken and can lead to a more pleasurable and enjoyable experience too.
- Communication needs to be open, honest and ongoing. Talk about your likes, dislikes, what you want or don’t want and what you would like to try
- Consider when you are interacting digitally, are you still asking for consent before you take an action.
- Talk about sexual activity before, during and after the event.
- If you’re shy sometimes not talking face to face but side by side is easier.
- Check in with your partner/s while you are intimate.
- Listen and watch your partner attentively when you are intimate to look for non-verbal clues too (are they being an active body?)
Tips for asking for consent
Consent is an ongoing conversation and process of check verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes it can be hard to find the words, so we have some tips for you.
At the start
- Can I kiss you?
- How far do you want to go?
- What would turn you on?
- Do you want to have <insert type of sex here> with me?
- How do you feel about ……?
- How would you like it?
- Can I touch you here?
- Can I go down on you?
- Do you want to try something new? I was thinking we could try?
Keeping the conversation going
- How does that feel?
- Should I slow down?
- Is this what you meant?
- Should I be gentler?
- Do you want to keep going?
- Do you want to try something else?
- Do you like this?
- Do you want me to stop?
- Are you comfortable? Is this position ok?
- Are you alright?
- Show me what you like?
- Is that ok?
- Does this feel good?
- How do you want me?
- Is how you like it?
- Should I stop?
- What do you like?
Are you a young person who would like to talk to our team more about consent? Sometimes you just need to talk it over with someone. There are several places you can go for a confidential chat:
Just ask bSHaW: Request a call back from a sexual health professional to talk about consent, another sexual health topic or get postal condoms. We speak to those between the age of 13 and 25.
The Mix: Essential support for under 25s
Call 0808 808 4994
The LGBT Foundation
Call 0345 3 30 30 30
Rape or sexual Assault Help and Support
If you have been affected by rape or sexual assault please click here for further support and information
Resources and Training
If you are a professional working with young people and would like training regarding consent or other sexual health and relationship topics please click here to view our range of courses and the opportunity to arrange bespoke training for your team.
- Consent is everything
- BISH Consent and the Law:
- PSHE Association:
- Pause Play Stop: https://pauseplaystop.org.uk/
- The Ins and Outs of Consent from BBCs May Destroy you series : https://theface.com/gal-dem/imaydestroyyou
- Rape Crisis:
- Consent is everything
Videos for primary children and parents
- Consent for Kids video
- NSPCC Pants campaign: Consent and Child Sexual Abuse For adults:
The NSPCC’s Talk PANTS TV ad – ‘There’s something you need to tell me’
NSPCC Talking PANTS: Donna’s Story
For children : Talk PANTS with Pantosaurus and his PANTS song #TalkPANTS
Need to speak to someone?
If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.
Call 0300 303 2880 to book an appointment or use our service finder to locate your nearest clinic.