Laws of age dating consent

Developmentally appropriate sexual exploration is when there is mutual agreement between same- or similar-aged peers, it is non-coercive and all participants have the control to participate, continue or stop the behaviour (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006).

The state jurisdictions that provide a legal defence when the sexual interaction is between two young people close in age (Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory) are attempting to find a balance that protects children and young people from adult sexual exploitation in a way that does not criminalise them for having sexual relationships with their peers.

If this is of someone who is or appears to be a minor (under 18) it can be child pornography if the picture depicts sexual behaviour or is in an indecent context.

Find out how you can get help with sex and the law.

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.

In Pennsylvania, children less than 13 years of age cannot grant consent to sexual activity.

A person in a supervisory role providing "special care" may include: a teacher, foster parent, religious official or spiritual leader, a medical practitioner, an employer of the child or a custodial official.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger call Police on 000. Information is current up to the date of publication.

Individuals are encouraged to check the currency of any information that is provided by contacting relevant departments or organisations.

A child may be willing to engage in sexual behaviour; however, as they do not have the decision-making capacity to give consent according to law, all sexual interactions between an adult and a person under the age of consent are considered abusive (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006).

The legal age for consensual sex varies across Australian state and territory jurisdictions (see Table 1).

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