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The best protection is knowing your partner, knowing their sexual history, being tested for STD's before petting, not sharing sex toys (like vibrators, dildos, etc.) without washing them first (or not sharing them at all), and making sure that no semen is on your fingers or hand when it contacts the vulva and/or vagina.
Negative Consequences: Getting caught is often time of a negative consequence most teens experience at some time or another during adolescence - sometimes they get in trouble, sometimes its just embarrassing.
A 'lactating female' is a female who is producing milk, usually due to pregnancy.
Positive Consequences: In addition to being very pleasant and exciting, petting is a natural progression in becoming a sexually mature adult, allowing you to enjoy and learn intimacy between two people.
One may have learned what the opposite sex looked like when younger, but in adolescence, petting lets you learn what the opposite sex FEELS like.
It allows one to explore and learn what touches and caresses are pleasing to your partner, and to learn more about your partner's body.