Sex, consent, and relationships

As we get older, we develop relationships with lots of different people. Each relationship will be different. Some will be healthy and will make you feel good about yourself, whilst others may make you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or scared.

It’s important to stay safe, especially if you’re worried or feel a relationship may be going wrong. The information provided gives advice on what is a healthy relationship and where to go if you have concerns.

If you’re worried about you or a friend, talk to someone you trust (like a teacher or a youth worker).

You can also call the council on 01275 888801 or the Police on 101 to talk things through.

If you’re in immediate danger, dial 999 straight away.


Consent means agreeing to do something. Sex is only ever okay if both people involved want to have sex.

This video from Thames Valley Police explains consent through the use of a familiar interaction - offering someone a cup of tea. 


Sexual exploitation and abuse

Sometimes, people might want to take advantage of you and they might ask you to do sexual things when you don't want to. This is a form of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and it’s not okay. It is a form of abuse and you have the right to be safe from it.

Signs to look out for

At first, you may like, respect, or even think you are falling in love with the person exploiting you. This is a process called grooming, which involves making you feel ‘special’ so that you become attached or close to this person.

Later the behaviour of the abuser will start to change little by little. By this point, you may feel trapped, isolated and scared. You may find it difficult to acknowledge that you no longer feel safe in the relationship.

Here are some of the messages from local young people who have been sexually exploited:

  • don’t hang around with people who you aren’t willing to take home
  • keep safe online - don’t share personal information or meet up with anyone you don't know in real life
  • speak to teachers or someone you trust
  • if you feel someone is not safe, tell someone – trust your instincts as you are almost certainly right
  • look out for your friends – many young people who are being abused think they’re in a normal ‘loving’ relationship and will not ask for help

How to get help

To find out more about sexual abuse and exploitation, and how to find help or report an emergency, please see the Bernardo's website. 

Barnardo's also have an app you can download which will help you stay safe in your relationships, and identify warning signs of abuse.

You can download it for free via your app store.