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For example, even if a 14 year old agreed to sexual activity with her/his 19 year old basketball coach, the law does not consider that the consent was freely given. The law also says that children under 12 years of age can never legally consent to sexual activity. You can show by your words OR actions that you do not consent.Actions, such as struggling and trying to leave, show that you do not consent.In the UK, this is 16 – but you might feel ready earlier or later than that.

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Young people at the age of consent are viewed by law to have general sexual competence to enforce personal boundaries and negotiate the risks involved in sexual activities.

When an adult engages in sexual behaviour with someone below the age of consent, they are committing a criminal offence (child sexual abuse).

Age of consent laws are designed to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse.

This booklet provides information on what is meant by the age of consent to sexual activity and an overview of some of Canada’s laws on sexual assault, and other offences involving sexual exploitation. This is the age that criminal law recognizes the legal capacity of a young person to consent to sexual activity.

This sheet is designed to inform practitioners and researchers of age of consent legislation in Australia.

If you are a young person seeking advice on sexual relations please refer to some of the following websites: Age of consent laws attempt to strike a balance between protecting children and young people from exploitation and other harms, and preserving their right to privacy and healthy sexual development.

Age of consent laws cannot be considered in isolation to other legislation concerning issues such as sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

For more information about the legislation concerning these issues, see the report (Quadara, Nagy, Higgins, & Siegel, 2015).

If you are charged, the likelihood is you’ll be given a caution, or a fine, and put on the Sex Offenders Register for one year if you’re under 18 (two years if you’re over 18).

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