Legally, if someone has given consent then it means that they agreed to do something by choice and that they had the freedom or the capacity to make that choice. For someone to give consent they have to be able to say “yes!” but it’s just as important that they are able to say “no”.

So, what does it all mean?

Usually people talk about consent when they’re talking about sex, but it actually applies to a lot of things – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos, the whole lot. Not everything, though. The law doesn’t care if you don’t consent to doing your homework or tidying your room. 

Right, that’s easy. It’s all about choice. Got it. I’m going to go back to watc…

Not so fast. It might seem simple, but in practice it can be a bit more complicated. For example, someone might say “yes” to doing something because they’re too scared of what will happen if they say “no” – it could be argued that they chose to say yes, but if they felt like they didn’t have a choice then it’s not really consent.

There are also complications when you add in things like alcohol and drugs. If someone is too drunk or stoned to be classed as being in their right mind, then they’re not in the position to make big decisions and so they can’t consent. There’s obviously a difference from being a little bit giggly (like Auntie Sheila on the sherry at Christmas) and being so drunk you’re unable to give consent, but knowing where that line is can be tricky. 

I know. Complicated, right? They never had to worry about stuff like this on Friends.

So what if consent isn’t there? 

If any of the things mentioned – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos and actually having sex – happen without the full and joyful consent of both parties, then it’s defined by the law as sexual assault or rape.

To protect yourself and the people you’re crushing on, it’s really important to make sure that before you do any of this you make sure that you, and everyone involved, have full consent. 

How do I know if I’ve got consent?

Well, the best way is to just ask! Knowing that you have and giving consent is all about communication. Start with non-verbal communication, i.e. body language – is the person interested and going along with what you’re doing, or are they freezing up and pushing you away. But then body language can only take you so far, so ask questions like “Is this ok?” and “Do you like this?”.

And if it seems too embarrassing to ask a potential pash things like this? Sorry to get lecturey on you, but if you’re not comfortable enough to talk to someone about snogging then you probably shouldn’t be snogging them. 

So, when do I know if I have consent? If we’re in a relationship?

Even if you’re in a relationship, you/they don’t automatically have consent. Even if you’ve been dating someone for ten years, you don’t automatically get consent! And you’re are able to withdraw it at any time. Even mid-snog, if you want to. 

What about if they said ‘no’ initially, but I kept asking and then they said ‘yes’?

Nope. Think back to what we said earlier – feeling able to say “no” is just as important as saying “yes”. If someone has pressured you into saying yes, then you’re not really consenting of your own free will, are you?

Also, er, no one should do this. It’s not the basis for a healthy relationship and is generally not cool. Not cool at all.

When else do I not have automatic consent?

When someone is unconscious or asleep, even if they gave consent beforehand. When someone is being super super flirty – they may well give you consent, but flirting doesn’t guarantee it. Nor does revealing clothing, the fact you’re already kissing, the fact someone said “yes” initially but then changed their mind, or the fact that haven’t explicitly said “no”. A good rule of thumb is that if either party doesn’t seem into it, you should just stop. 

And don’t forget, if you’re under 16 you can’t consent even if you’re awake, happy and in your right mind – because the law considers you too young. Soz. 

So when do I or they have consent?

When you’re both in your right minds, both comfortable with each other, both saying “yes” to whatever you’re doing, both eager and happy to do it and would both feel safe to say “no” and ask the other person to stop at any time. 

We know it sounds complicated, but it’s really not scary and the best thing about it is that the same rules protect you too. It’s really important to remember that you don’t have to do anything that you’re not 100% happy and comfortable doing.

What should I do if I think I’ve had situations where I didn’t give my consent?

Firstly, whatever happened, it’s not your fault. Secondly, talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult, teacher or parent, you could always try a friend. If you don’t even feel comfortable talking about it with a friend yet, you can always talk to Childline for free confidential advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

To tongue or not to tongue? That is the question… 

1. It’s totally going to happen isn’t it? I mean, why else would we both have left the main party (especially when the pizzas are about to arrive) to go for a ‘nice refreshing walk’ around this garden?

2. I mean what are we, 70? What teenager turns down Domino’s in favour of a ‘bit of fresh air’? 

3. And why did we both pick this ridiculously romantic cherry blossom tree to sit under? Eh? Even though this long grass could easily be hiding piles of dog poo. 

4. Actually that IS a worry….

5. WHEVS, I am about to have my first ever kiss! Under a CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE! Am pretty much a Jane Austen character.

6. Not that they ever kiss, actually. So rubbish for them. Bet sometimes all they wanted was to snog each other’s faces off.

7. Well don’t worry, Lizzie Bennett. This one’s for you! And it’s going to be the most romantic-novel-worthy kiss anyone’s ever seen.

8. Oh god, I hope no one sees.

9. Unless I’ve completely got the wrong end of the snog stick and they don’t want to kiss me at all? I mean, maybe we really have come out here to enjoy the air.

10. But then why would we have stopped talking and just been smiling awkwardly at each other for the last three minutes? And why would they be staring at me like that?

11. OH CRAP HAVE I GOT A BOGEY.  

12. Quick check: nope. All clear. And that was mega subtle bogey checking, too. Go me. Nailed it. Figuratively and literally.

13. So if it’s not bogey-related then this silent staring thing is clearly the beginnings of my first. Ever. Kiss. Eeeeeeee!

14. Um…. how does it start exactly? Do I just lean in and close my eyes and pout?

15. But then if they’re not into it I’ll just be left hanging there like some weird unconscious duck. And anyway, why can’t I make the fist move?

16. Nonononononononono I do NOT want to make the first move. What would I even do? Lunge at them? I may not know much about kissing but I know that THAT’S not cool.

17. Mmmm, maybe I could be like, “I’d really like to kiss you right now”…

18. Ugh no.

19. “I really like your lips”?

20. NOPE. You are not a stalker-slash-serial-killer.

21. Uhmmmmm…

22. WAIT! They’re doing the unconscious duck! They’re doing the unconscious duck! How long have they been doing that for?

23. Doesn’t matter! Don’t leave them hanging just KISS THEM you moron!

24. Oh god but what if I get it totally wrong?! What if I miss and kiss their chin or their nose or something? Is that… a thing? A sexy thing?

25. Ok. I’m going in.

26. Eyes open? Eyes closed? Eyes open? Eyes closed?!

27. And do I need to hold my breath, do we think? Can you kiss and breathe at the same time?

28. Better take an extra deep one, just in case.

29. Ok, Ok, they’ve been there for ages now, just go for it. Eyes closed, deep breath and…

30. NOSE CLASH! Noooooo! Kill me now.

31. Oh it’s ok, they’re laughing.

32. Laugh too, you idiot.

33. But now I’ve lost all my air! I am going to suffocate and die kissing! Although, not a bad way to go. In the grand scheme of things.

34. Oooh, they’ve got really soft lips. And they taste of Haribo. WHY did I go for the garlic bread over the Haribo at snack table? WHY?

35. Tbh if they don’t like garlic bread then they’re probably not worth kissing anyway.

36. Do I open my mouth? What if I accidentally drool on them? Or our teeth smash together?

37. Ok, they’re opening theirs. Better give this a go.

38. WOAH there with the tongue! Too much too much too much too- thank you! That’s better. 

40. Much better.

41. What do I do with my hands? Maybe stroke their face? No, that is their eye. You’ve poked them right in the eye. Nice one. 

42. I wonder what this looks like from the outside? I bet we look totally grown up and experienced. I bet they look gorgeous. Maybe I’ll just have a little peek. I mean, I really ought to take a mental picture of the person I had my first kiss with. Just open my eyes a crack. Just to –

43. GAHH! They’re looking right at me. Like a frog.

44. And good, now we’re just staring at each other.

45. This is SO. AWKWARD.

46. And you’re still looking.

47. You’ve been looking at them for basically about 45 minutes by now.

48. SHUT YOUR EYES. SHUT THEM. FOR THE LOVE OF BEYONCE, SHUT. THEM. NOW. 

49. There you go. Just keep kissing. Just keep kissing. It’s all good. 

50. Wow we’ve been kissing for aaaaaagggges now. How long do we need to carry on for it to count as a proper snog? Like, officially? I reckon at least 2 minutes. And I mean we must have done, what, one and a half minutes AT LEAST. Maybe I should do a countdown. 30. 29. 28

51. OK well now you’re just opening and closing your mouth in time with your inner counting.

52. Just enjoooy it.

53. But now I’m all red and spitty and… to be quite honest… my jaw’s getting tired. You know what? I think that’s enough to qualify as a proper first kiss. I’m out. Final peck, pulling away… eyes open.

54. And there we go! My first kiss! Completed! Tick! 

55. I mean it wasn’t great and it was a bit weird and awks. But hey! It wasn’t that bad!

56. And appazza it only gets better with practice. 

57. Practice, they say… Practice…

58. I’m going in again, aren’t I?

59. Yes, yes I am. Pizza can wait.

@LucindaEverett

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YouTuber, influencer and leading sex expert Hannah Witton is the cool older sister we all need. From dealing with periods to losing your virginity, she knows the score and she is definitely not embarrassed to talk about it. In fact, that’s kind of her thing. At just 25, she’s already racked up over 250,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel thanks to her weekly videos all about sex and relationships and, luckily for us, she decided to write a book about it too.

Doing It covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sex. Healthy relationships, consent, body image, periods, contraception, STDS and all of the nitty gritty details; it’s all in there. Sex education, or lack of it, is a big deal and Hannah has set out to break down the barriers of awkwardness and embarrassment to get us all talking about it openly.

I’ll be honest; I thought I knew everything there was to know. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. But thanks to Hannah I now feel totally clued up.

As her new biggest fan, I caught up with her to talk writing books, sex, periods and more…

Releasing your first book must be super exciting. What made you take the jump from vlogger to author?

“It is super exciting! I can’t quite believe it’s actually happening now after all the work that’s gone into it. The idea of writing a sex and relationships education book just made so much sense to me. I’ve made loads of videos on different topics and written blog posts, but this was a chance to get it all down in one place.”

As you say in the intro of your book, you’re kind of obsessed with sex education. What makes it so important for you?

“I think the taboo around it makes it really important, because we have to break down those barriers. I’m just fascinated by relationships in general and how we relate to one another, and our own bodies and sex and sexuality very regularly comes up in these situations.”

What’s the biggest sex myth you’d love to bust?

“The myth that if you’re a girl sex will hurt the first time. It just makes young people scared of sex before they’ve even experienced it, and it won’t necessarily hurt.”

From losing your virginity to the big O, you’re seriously open about everything sex-related. Is there anything you’re embarrassed to talk about?

“Nothing I’ve come across so far!”

Listening to a teacher talk about sex is a lot people’s worst nightmare. Do you remember your first sex ed lesson?

“Yes! We had one in year 5 or 6 of primary school where they showed us a video about erections and periods. And then when we were in secondary school the nurse came into our PHSE class and taught us about different kinds of contraception and how to put a condom on a test tube.”

What would you say to anyone with a burning question that they feel awkward about asking?

“Write it down and ask multiple people! No-one knows everything about sex so you may even ask adults that don’t know the answer. Google can be your friend. Organisations like Brook have so much information on their websites so it doesn’t even have to involve speaking to anyone.”

What’s the major thing you wish you’d known about sex when you were growing up?

“I wish I’d known that female masturbation wasn’t gross and it was normal.”

Consent is a big deal and you dedicate a whole chapter to it. What’s your advice to anyone who’s unsure of what it means?

“Consent is basically making sure everyone is down with getting down. It is absolutely necessary to know this before you continue shenanigans.”

Yours isn’t the only voice in your book – you also feature a lot of LGBTQ+ contributors. Why was this so important to you?

“I felt like I couldn’t accurately speak on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and I didn’t want to make assumptions, generalisations or speak over them. I think it’ll make a huge difference to young LGBTQ+ readers hearing the voices of people like them who they can relate to.”

What do you want readers to get out of your book?

“I want them to get a sense of self-confidence out of it around the topics of relationships and sex, so they can go forth in the world and have healthy relationships with other people and themselves.”

Could you tell us the story of your first period?

“I started my period after watching Freaky Friday in the cinema with my mum! I went to the toilet and saw that there was some blood in my knickers. I knew exactly what was happening so I just grabbed a load of tissue paper, shoved it in my pants and when we got home I told my mum.”

If you could tell your 14-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

“What the clitoris is, and where to find it.”

Doing It by Hannah Witton is out now. Grab your copy here.

@SophieBenson_

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

So… er… sexting.

Sexting?

Yes, sexting.

What are you talking about?

Well, the definition of sexting is sending or receiving any messages that can be considered sexual. This means sexually explicit texts/emails, but most of the time when people talk about sexting they’re talking about photos or videos where someone is naked or half clothed and…

No, I know what sexting is, but why are you talking about it?

Because people don’t, really, and that means it’s hard to know what to do if sexting goes wrong and the person you sent your carefully posed selfie to decides to share it round the whole year. You can feel ashamed or guilty and like there’s no way out — but there are things you can do! Knowledge is power, so let’s make like Mario and level up.

The most important thing to know about sexting is that once you send a photo or text, you have no control over what happens to it. The person you sent it to might keep it to themselves or they might put it on Instagram. They might treasure it forever as a symbol of your love, or they might show everyone at the bus stop. It’s a big risk to take and you need to make sure you’re willing to take it.

If it’s so risky, why do people do it?

Lots of reasons. Sometimes because they just want to. Other times because they like how they look and want to show it off. But sometimes they send photos because they’re pressured to — their crush might be telling them they’re frigid or shy, or they feel like it’s a normal part of a relationship, or they feel like everyone else is doing it, or they keep being asked for them and it feels like it’s easier to just say yes.

The second most important thing to know about sexting is that you are under absolutely no obligation to do it. It doesn’t make you frigid if you don’t, you don’t have to do it just because you’re in a relationship, and I’d bet my laptop that not “everyone” else is doing it. If you don’t want to sext, you don’t have to. End of.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • It’s illegal to share private sexual photos or videos, unless the person in them says it’s ok.
  • It's also illegal to post, possess or even take sexual photos or videos of someone who is under 18 – even yourself.
  • If you don't want to sext, you don't have to. End of.

Um… I sexted someone and now I wish I hadn’t. What should I do?

Start by having a chat with the person you sent the messages to. Ask them if they’ve sent it to anyone else and if they’ll delete it. Hopefully it’ll be a no to the first one, a yes to the second one, and you can carry on with your life.

But even if things don’t go that smoothly, there are still things you can do. As awkward as it might feel, a good thing to do is talk to your parent/guardian or a teacher as soon as possible as the quicker they can get to the image, the quicker they’ll be able to stop it from being shared around and give the git responsible a good telling off.

The person I sent the photo to has put it on Facebook…

And this is where things start to get a little bit more serious. If someone is posting these photos on social networks, report the image and the social network should take it down. For other websites or just because you don’t believe in half-measures you can contact the Internet Watch Foundation. They’re like the Batman of criminal sexual online content.

Criminal content?!

Oh yes. There was a law passed in 2015 that means it’s illegal to share private sexual photos or videos unless the person in them says it’s ok. Sharing someone’s sexts isn’t just a crappy thing to do, it’s also against the law.

Also, if you’re under 18, it’s illegal to post sexual photos or videos of under 18s online. That’s a triple whammy of badness right there.

Although actually, it’s also illegal to possess sexual photos/videos or take sexual photos/videos of under-18s, which means that even if you’re merrily sexting away and not having any issues with it being shared around, even taking sexual photos or videos of yourself is actually breaking the law. Soz.

Okay, it’s been taken down and I won’t do it any more. Thanks betty!

No problem — it’s what we’re here for. Wait, does that make us the Batman of criminal sexual online content…?

But someone else is already pressuring me to send a photo. What should I do?

You can just say no, again and again and again until they get the message. Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If they’re trying to make you feel guilty for not sending a photo you can sweetly remind them that that’s emotional blackmail – anyone with half a conscience will leave you alone.

If they don’t back off, you can block them on every communication channel under the sun. And if they’re super persistent and still nagging you, ask for help. Show screenshots of their messages to your mum, their mum, a teacher, a local newsreader, actual Batman, whoever you like. You can always ask for help in dealing with it if you need to.

But don’t give in and send a photo just to shut them up. You don’t have to do that just because they keep asking. Bottom line: it’s your body, and you get to say what you do with it.

Need more info on sexting? Take a look at the Childline site and watch their helpful videos.