Sexual Activity: Are You Old Enough to Consent?

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The law requires that people taking part in sexual activities agree to those activities. This is called “consent.” You can give consent or refuse to give it.  

If you’re a teenager, there are also other rules. 

Remember that “no” always means “no”. This applies to all sexual activities, such as kissing, touching and intercourse.

Did You Consent?

Consent can be given by words, actions or expressions like smiles.  

Your consent is valid (recognized by the law) if it meets these conditions:   

  • You really agree. You don’t feel forced.
  • You’re in a condition to agree. For example, your consent is not valid if you’re sleeping.   Your consent is also not valid if drugs or alcohol prevent you from knowing what you’re doing.  

You can also withdraw your consent. You can change your mind, even after saying “yes”. 

Anyone who does not respect your wishes can be charged with the crime of sexual assault. 

Are You Old Enough to Consent?

You’re 16 or older? You’re old enough to give valid consent.

You’re under 16? You can take part in sexual activities as long as it’s with someone close to your own age.

What does “close to your own age” mean? The chart below explains the age differences that are allowed.

Age of the Younger Partner

Age Difference Allowed

12-13 years

2 years (less 1 day)

14-15 years

5 years (less 1 day)

If the age difference between you and your partner is more than what is allowed, your partner could be charged with a crime.  

Sometimes Consent Is Never Valid

Until you turn 18, your consent isn’t valid if you’re in a vulnerable position in relation to your partner.  This applies even if you said “yes.” 

What does it mean to be in a vulnerable position?  

  • Your partner is in a position of authority over you or is in a position of trust in relation to you. For example, teachers are usually in a position of authority over their students. 
  • You’re dependant on your partner or are being exploited by your partner. For example, your consent would not be valid in these situations:  
    • Your partner uses your difference in age to take advantage of you.  
    • Your partner gives you a place to live when you have nowhere else to go.  

You Did Not Consent or Your Consent Was Not Valid? 

There are organizations that can help if you want to talk or get other help. The help is free and confidential. Also, you can speak to your parents or with an adult you trust at school.  

You can also go to the police, but you are not obliged to. If you go to the police, the person who did not respect your consent could be charged with a crime, such as sexual assault or sexual touching.