You need to think about three things to answer this question:
- What the law says
- Am I emotionally ready?
- How mature am I?
What the law says
In Victoria, Australia the law states:
- If you are under 12 years old, no one can have sex with you or perform sexual acts in front of you.
- If you are between 12 and 16 years of age, only people who are no more than two years older than you can do sexual things with you.
- If you are aged 16 or 17, no one who is in a position of care or responsibility can do sexual things with you.
This means that even if you think you want to have sex with someone, it may still be against the law.
Am I emotionally ready?
Knowing when you are emotionally ready to have sex is an individual thing. Some people have their first sexual experience while they’re in high school, others finish school before they feel ready to have a sexual relationship with someone, and others wait until they are married.
Don’t feel pressured because your friends are “doing it”. The facts are:
- Only about half of Victorian Year 12 students have had sexual intercourse
- About 60% have had oral sex.
(From ARCSHS 2008 study)
What is really important is that you feel that having sex is right for you, and that you want to do it then - and with that person. If you feel pressured or forced, then it is definitely not the right time!
How mature am I?
Development means growth or maturity. It is important that you are mature enough to manage the emotional, psychological, physical and practical aspects of having a sexual relationship with someone.
If you haven’t gone through puberty you are probably not ready to have sex.
It is really important that any sexual contact takes place in a relationship where the people respect and trust each other, and agree to the sexual activity. As you mature it gets easier to know if a relationship has these things or not.
Being sexually active takes responsibility. You need to understand and be able to look after your sexual health, which means preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. You also need to be aware of your own and other people’s sexual boundaries. That means being able to say “Yes” to what you do want, and “No” to what you don’t. It also means listening and respecting your partner when they do the same.