A quick chat about consent, condoms and keeping yourself safe
Why am I here?
You might be wondering why you’ve ended up on this page. We’ve brought you here, as it looks like you’re under 16 – which means you’re under the age of consent here in Aotearoa.
This means a couple of things. The first being that we aren’t able to help you out with free condoms at this stage, but we can point you towards where you might be able to get some – so don’t worry. The second being we want to give you some knowledge that will hopefully keep you safe as you navigate where you are right now – understanding consent being the biggest part of this.
Also, we want to commend you on being here at all, as it’s really good that you’re already thinking about condoms at your age. Knowing about prevention and using it as early as possible when you start having sex is the best way to make a habit of playing safe throughout the rest of your sexual adventures.
Why can’t you give me condoms?
Long story short – we are funded to get condoms into the hands of guys who are over 16 and likely to be at most risk of HIV. There are other organisations that specialise in looking out for younger guys and making sure their needs are met, as well as equipping them with the tools to keep themselves safe. They will be able to help connect you with prevention tools and have the essential conversations you need to be having to make sure you are not getting into situations you’re not prepared for yet – our service simply sends out condoms in a discrete envelope, so you’d be missing out on these important chats.
What are my options for getting condoms?
There are quite a few ways you can get a hold of condoms:
- Supermarket, dairy, gas station or chemist (anywhere that sells condoms) – you can buy condoms at any age, right off the shelf. If you do get asked your age, you do not have to tell them. Boxes of condoms (usually 10-12 in a pack) tend to be around $15 – $20.
- Family Planning – make an appointment and head into Family Planning. They will be able to talk with you about staying safe and can give prescriptions for condoms – you would be able to get up to 12 packs (around 120 condoms) for only $5! Visits to Family Planning are free for anyone under 22. Your parents/caregivers won’t be told about your visit unless you want them to be.
- Sexual Health Services (SHS) – free sexual health assessments are available and prescriptions for condoms can be given. You would be able to get up to 12 packs (around 120 condoms) for only $5! SHS also often have free condoms available in the clinic. Your parents/caregivers won’t be told about your visit unless you want them to be.
- Talk to your doctor – It can be awkward speaking to your doctor about sex, but GPs can also prescribe condoms. You would be able to get up to 12 packs (around 120 condoms) for only $5!
- Check to see if your school nurse, school health centre or school guidance counsellor can provide condoms.
This chat is a bit different from the birds and bees talk your parents awkwardly had with you in the lounge that one time. This is where we talk about consent.
At the most basic level, consent is exactly what that word means – giving permission to be a part of something. But it’s much more than a simple nod or hesitant “yup” or “okay”.
The legal stuff: For anyone under the age of 16, it is law that they cannot legally consent to any kind of sexual contact. It is illegal for anyone to attempt sexual contact with anyone under 16. These laws are in place to keep people safe.
We’re not saying you’re not clever, and that you don’t know what you want – it’s just a fact that young people are more vulnerable to being made to do things they don’t want to. This law gives you more time to have more experience and understanding under your belt before you are undoing someone else’s.
This also means that if you and your partner are both under 16, it is technically still a crime to have sexual contact. If your activity is reported, police will still need to investigate to see if anyone is being harmed. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis if you are both under 16, whereas between someone over 16 and someone under – it is immediately a chargeable offence.
You can also not consent to any sexual activity if you are too affected by drugs or alcohol to be able to make informed decisions – no matter how old you are.
Enthusiastic consent: While you cannot legally consent to sex, you still need to know what it is to prepare you from the future. Consent is about making sure no-one is doing anything they don’t want to do or don’t understand. It also means asking for what you want, saying no to anything you aren’t into and doing the same for your partners by only making moves after getting an enthusiastic yes!
You need to feel okay about everything that’s happening and need to check in with your partner that they feel okay too. This means the whole time – not just at the beginning.
Consent is not a ‘one yes fits all’ situation – if you’ve said yes to something sexual, you still have the right to stop at any point you want.
The direction of your play changes to somewhere you don’t want to go
You stop feeling okay with something you have said yes to
Either of you decide you aren’t okay with something that’s happening
You’re ever not sure about whether your partner is consenting
Then: it’s time to stop.
No one should ever be shamed or made to feel guilty for saying no – it’s all a part of respecting yourself and your partners, and keeping each other safe.
Keeping safe and asking for help
- Remember, that all of this is about keeping you and your partners safe. If you have had experiences that made you feel unsafe or have been made do anything you didn’t want to – there are people you can talk to who will support you and help you contact authorities if necessary.
- Talk to someone at your closest Sexual Health Service – they will have support pathways to help you, these differ from region to region
- Safetotalk.nz – is Aotearoa’s 24/7 helpline for any kind of sexual harm. You can contact them in whatever way feels most comfortable – text, email, phone-call and more. Trained counsellors will be able to speak with you and help support you
- If you feel comfortable speaking to the Police – there is a sexual assault unit that will be able to help you bring a complaint against someone who has harmed you. We understand that this is a big deal though, so recommend talking to an organisation that can support you in contacting Police and help you through the process.