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A reasonable degree of equality needs to exist between the parties engaged in sexual activities, whether that pertains to relationships (authority and dependency), physical and/or intellectual capacity, or age (Conroy, Krishnakumar, & Leone, 2015; Craig, 2014; Mc Carthy & Thompson, 2004; Ryan, 1997).Gender and gender inequality also play a role in sexual consent. 1294) find that "adolescent sexual values, personal beliefs and expectations about sex are deeply shaped by gendered behaviours regulated by their peer and social environments." Coercion can be described as the peer pressure put on one child by another to achieve compliance (Ryan, 1997). The lower end may include implied authority, manipulation, trickery or bribery.In situations where there is a clear age difference - for example a teenager and a young child - any sexual interaction is sexual abuse, as there is a definite power imbalance.However, when both parties are close in age, identifying whether the sexual activity is abusive is more complex.An important distinction should be made between "willingness" and "consent".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 widespread use of mobile phones has led to a number of legal interventions that attempt to protect children from sexual exploitation in online environments.
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.This sheet is designed to inform practitioners and researchers of age of consent legislation in Australia.The legal age for consensual sex varies across Australian state and territory jurisdictions (see Table 1).The age of consent is 16 years of age in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
Such laws effectively determine that children and young people below the age of consent are yet to reach a level of general maturity enabling their safe participation in sexual activities.