Ask the Expert: I'm worried about my teenage daughter's relationship

Childline recently launched a campaign addressing consent and pressure in teen relationships, as Lisa Salmon discovers

Childline's #ListenToYourSelfie campaign helps teens recognise unhealthy relationships
Lisa Salmon

MY 14-year-old daughter's got a 15-year-old boyfriend and I'm worried he's making her do things she doesn't want to do. She's asked me about what rights people have in relationships, but denies there are any problems with hers. How should I deal with this?

The NSPCC's Childline service manager, Wendy Robinson, says: "Relationships can be confusing for young people, especially when they're experiencing them for the first time. At the NSPCC, we think it's really important all young people understand that in a healthy relationship, they should never feel under pressure to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, and they always have the right to say no.

"If you're concerned your daughter might be under pressure to do something she's not ready to, it can feel difficult to know how you can help, particularly if you don't know exactly what's happening. You could try having a conversation with her about consent.

"Explain that consent in relationships is all about feeling in control and saying yes, or doing things because they choose to, and not because someone's pressuring them to. The person they're with should care about them enough not to pressure them or make them do something they're not happy about.

"Even though the legal age of consent is 16, we know things like music videos and online porn can make young people feel like they should be sexually active before they may be ready. It can often seem like lots of other young people are doing it, or are talking about doing it. However, this shouldn't ever be a reason to start having sex. Everyone is different, and sex should be something they do because they want to and feel ready.

"At Childline, we recently re-launched our #ListenToYourSelfie campaign, to help teenagers recognise if they're in an unhealthy relationship and to speak up and get help if they're concerned. As well as finding out more about the campaign on the Childline website (, there's advice for young people on what they can do if they feel unsafe, or are worried about the relationship of someone they know."

For confidential advice and support, call Childline on 0800 1111

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