Sexual Activity: Are You Old Enough to Consent?

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Before having sex, you must make sure your partner agrees to it. This is called consent.

But it’s not that simple. Saying “yes” doesn’t always mean your consent is legal.

Let’s look at some simple rules to help you understand.

Remember: No always means no. This also applies to kissing and petting.

Did You Really Say “Yes”?

Your consent is legal if it meets all of these conditions:

  • You express your consent clearly.
  • You really agree to have sex. You give your consent freely and don’t feel forced or obliged to have sex.
  • You’re in a condition to agree. For example, you must be awake. Also, you must not be so drunk that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Important! You have the right to change your mind at any time. Your partner must respect your choice. If not, your partner might be accused of a crime.

Are You Old Enough?

You’re 16 or older? Then you’re old enough to consent.

You’re under 16? You can consent to sexual activity 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)

When Consent Is Never Legal

Until you turn 18, your consent isn’t legal if you’re in a vulnerable position in relation to your partner.

What does it mean to be in a vulnerable position?

  1. Your partner is in a position of authority over you or is in a position of trust in relation to you.
    • Some people are in a position of authority because of their jobs, for example, school teachers.
  2. You’re dependant on your partner or are being exploited by your partner.
    • 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.