What would you do if you discovered your 13-year-old daughter was sleeping with her 15-year-old boyfriend? A Southampton father of four tells Sarah Jones how he reacted.
“IT was about four or five months ago that my 13-yearold daughter started seeing her first ‘proper’ boyfriend.
They got to know each other through school. He’s 15.
We weren’t happy about the age gap from the start but you can’t stop these things. Instead we made sure they knew there were lines to be drawn and they weren’t to cross them. Obviously, that didn’t work.
We realised their relationship had moved that step further a couple of weeks ago. Our daughter had been very quiet so hermumapproached her and she basically came clean. She said it had happened once. It was a spur of the moment thing and that they both regretted it.
We weren’t expecting it at all.
Obviously we were pretty disappointed and annoyed but there wasn’t much point in really shouting at her about it because it had already been done.
But we were very unhappy with him because they were warned beforehand that nothing was to be going on.
Within 20 minutes of finding out, we were straight on the phone to the police because we thought it was a criminal act. The age of consent is 16, after all.
It was a Sunday night and we waited for about three-and-a-half-hours for a policeman to come out to us.
We had to keep our daughter up so that she could speak to him as well.
She was quite upset and was worried about what was going to happen to her boyfriend.
They kept ringing us to say that because of the seriousness of it they would be coming but that they were a bit tied up. It was about midnight by the time a male PC arrived.
All he could do was take down the basic details and left half an hour later.
He assured us it was very serious and that a sensitive interview team would come out to speak with our daughter because of her age and the circumstances.
He assured us it would be dealt with very quickly and that if we hadn’t heard anything by the Wednesday, to call and find out what was going on.
No one called, so I rang on the Wednesday but nobody called me back. I rang again the next day and spoke to a sergeant.
I had quite a heated conversation with him because I was immediately told it wasn’t going to be taken any further. He said because of their closeness in age and the fact that it was consensual they didn’t feel it was worth pursuing it.
When I said, ‘but isn’t it illegal?’ the sergeant said although it is against the law to have underage sex, the local force policy is not to prosecute when the ages are so close together.
There is a good two years between them so we assumed something would have been done.
All we really wanted was for the police to attend his house and have a stern word. We didn’t want any court action or anything like that. We just wanted him to know it’s illegal and that it was wrong.
But the sergeant ended up saying if it went any further we would have to hold charges against our daughter because they were both under-age and had consented.
He said they were passing it to Social Services but nothing’s being done that end.
We rang the boy’s parents and spoke to them.I think they probably did a better job on him than anyone else.
We can only say to our daughter and her boyfriend you shouldn’t be doing it and don’t, but you can’t watch them 24 hours a day. We hope she doesn’t do it again but if she does she might not be so lucky and end up pregnant or something.
Basically, it’s just a green light to the boy to go ahead and do it because there are no repercussions afterwards. As far as he’s concerned, he’s got away with it scot-free.”
Hampshire police statement
“Hampshire Constabulary can confirm it received a report of a 13-year-old Southampton girl and a 15-year-old Southampton boy engaging in underage sexual activity. Contact was made with the person reporting the incident and, having made further enquiries, it was quickly established both children had acted with consent.
Hampshire Constabulary has a grading policy in place to ensure all offences involving children are dealt with appropriately. In this case, both the children have committed offences against each other under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It was decided not to take the matter any further because it is not the constabulary’s intention to criminalise young people of similar age engaging in consensual sexual activity, or in the public interest to do so.
Due to our grading of this incident, the force has referred this matter to Social Services to deal with as the most appropriate agency to progress this issue and this action has been fully communicated to the person reporting.”
Advice on talking about sex to teens
You may want to talk to your teenager about waiting to have sex, contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the effects of having a child while they are still at school. There are many ways you can help:
■ find out what education they are getting in school about sex and relationships
■ provide them with information and advice on subjects not covered at school
■ offer to go with your teenager to the doctor or sexual health clinic to discuss any issues about contraception
■ make sure they know about STIs, and know how to stay safe
■ support your teenager as they deal with the emotions of a first intimate relationship
■ talk about the importance of considering the feelings of others in relationships, and not just the biology
■ you may find your teenager does not have the same values as you when it comes to sex. Try not to let this bother you – it’s a normal part of them growing up.