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Turning 18

Turning 18 is big occasion for many young people.

It brings with it new responsibilities, challenges and opportunities.

This may feel scary, but you can look forward to starting the next chapter of your life, a chapter where you can be more independent and have new experiences.

What’s actually going to change?

The law requires you to remain in education until the end of the academic year when you turn 18, however this doesn’t have to mean in a school setting as there are a range of higher education options open to you. Only after this time period can you start working full time.

Once you turn 18, you are able to vote in any elections in England, providing you are registered to vote. Click here for more information and how to register.

You will also start being treated as an adult in the eyes of the law, which means any crimes committed will be tried at adult level.

What can I do that I couldn’t before?

Finances

At 18, you are able to rent a house or get a mortgage to eventually own a house, depending on how much money you earn.

You are able to apply for credit cards or loans, however these can end up costing you a lot of money due to their high interest rates if you don’t pay them back on time, so don’t rush into getting them.

Alcohol

You are legally able to buy alcohol for yourself and anyone else over the age of 18 however you should be aware of the risks of alcohol and recommended limits (no more than 14 units a week/2-3 units a day for men and women). You should be aware that if you have not had alcohol before, your tolerance may be low and you may feel increased effects more quickly.

Smoking

You are legally able to buy tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs and vapes for yourself or anyone over the age of 18. However there are serious health risks associated with smoking, and current advice is to not take up smoking e-cigs or vaping unless it is to help you stop smoking tobacco.

Marriage

At 18, you are legally able to marry another person without needing parental permission. This marriage needs to be entered into through choice as forced marriage is illegal.

Gambling

You are able to legally gamble and place bets once you turn 18, but be aware that this can be very addictive and can lead you to losing a lot of money in a short space of time.

Tattoos

18 is also the legal age to get a tattoo. If you are considering getting a tattoo, do your research and make sure the establishment you choose is safe, hygienic and holds the necessary licences.  Tattoos are expensive so if you find somewhere offering them cheap, you are likely to get a poor quality product and risk potential infections. Remember, tattoos are for life, so don’t make any sudden decisions on designs as you may regret it as you get older!

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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