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Relationships, Sexuality and Sexual Health

At some point while coming to school, young people go through puberty. This can be a difficult time as a person’s body starts to grow and change as it starts to produce sex hormones. These chemicals can also cause emotional changes and young people often find that their emotions are up and down. At the same time, they may start to develop sexual feelings for other people. These feelings may be for people from the opposite sex, from the same sex, or both.

Getting involved in a relationship can be complicated but it is important that both people respect each other. Healthy relationships can bring lots of positive feelings and be good for mental health. However, it can sometimes be hard to judge whether certain behaviours are normal, or whether they are abusive.

When relationships become abusive they can be physically abusive, but also emotionally abusive. Sometimes they can also be sexually abusive.

Physical abuse can include:

  • Hitting.
  • Punching.
  • Slapping.
  • Holding someone down.

Emotional Abuse can include:

  • One partner getting upset/angry when the other person tries to see their friends.
  • One partner threatening to spread rumours about the other.
  • Putdowns, name calling, verbal abuse.
  • Pressuring a partner to send them sexually explicit photographs (being in possession of a sexually explicit photograph of someone who is under 18 years of age is illegal).
  • If someone is LGBT but not 'out' their partner may threaten to 'out' them.

Sexual abuse involves forcing someone to do any sexual act they don’t want to - this is rape or sexual assault and a criminal offence.

Becoming comfortable with your sexuality can be confusing and difficult. It isn’t unusual for someone to be attracted to a person of the same sex at some point in time and so it is important for young people to fully explore their feelings before 'coming out'. When someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it can sometimes take a long time to 'come out' or to tell anyone. It can be difficult for someone who is trying to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and can have an effect on mental health. However, everyone should be able to be honest about who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin. When someone feels it is the right time to 'come out' they might find it useful to plan how to tell people, decide who they want to tell and have some support with this.

Looking after sexual health is important. It is illegal to have sex with someone who is under 16 years of age and it should only happen when there is mutual consent. Having sex should be a carefully thought out decision and should always include conversations about contraception. Young people can get advice from their GP, the Contraception and Sexual Health Service or from a Youth Clinic in Rotherham/Doncaster. Having unprotected sex carries a risk of catching an STI and/or pregnancy.

You might find it useful to visit:

 

Disrespect Nobody

 

Stonewall

 

BBC

 

 

BBC

Male Advice

BBC

Female Advice

Barnardos