Alex's Answer

We both consented to send sexually explicit photos to each other

Your Question

Hi Alex, an online friend and I exchanged explicit photos over the internet. I made sure that she was entirely comfortable with the encounter and we both had a good time. One of her friends caught wind of this and has accused me of taking advantage of someone “too young for me”; I’m 16 and she’s 14, though I was under the impression that she was 15. Even though I now know that she’s 14, I still don’t feel that I’ve done anything wrong. Don’t Romeo and Juliet laws say that acts are okay if there’s no more than two years between the people? 

Answer

 

Hi there, Welcome to Ask Alex.  

It sounds like yourself and your online friend have been exploring your sexuality together online. This is a natural part of growing up and although it sounds like you where mindful of consent in relation to your friend and yourself, it seems there is some misunderstanding around the age of consent and the law around this.  

You have been very brave asking Alex about this and opening about your concerns. It sounds like you are trying to be keep yourself and your friend safe as you explore your sexuality. Do you think you would find it helpful to look up ways in which to keep yourself safe online?  You have the right to grow, learn and explore your sexuality in a safe and age-appropriate way as you grow up. The website www.b4uDecide.ie has lots of information and advice about sexual exploration/education.  

We would be concerned to hear that you have taken explicit photos of yourself and your friend.  It is a criminal offence to possess, produce, share, post or show any explicit image of a person under 18 years old. This means that even though you may feel you have consent from your friend who is 14, it is still against the law due to both your ages. 

The Romeo and Juliet law that you have referred to is not actually a law, it is a defence that can be used if or when a case of statutory rape gets to court. The age of consent to sexual activity is 17. What do you think about the age of consent; why do you think it is 17?   

It is important for you to have honest conversations about this area, you can always talk to Childline, where you will find a non-judgemental listening ear.  Do you have a trusted adult in your life you can talk to about this? What do you think it would be like to chat to this person about the images? It is understandable that you might be worried or upset about things however we at AskA lex would like to let you know that you are not alone in this.   

You can also call Childline free on 1800 66 66 66 or chat to us online at www.childline.ie, all chats are kept confidential. We are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. There will always be somebody here to listen to you. 

Thank you for reaching out to Ask Alex. We hope you have found the above useful. Remember, we are here for you if you ever need to talk. 

Take care of yourself, 

Alex 

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