Legal dating age restrictions

According to theoretical and practical understandings of consent, those key elements include: Equality relates to the balance of power and control between those involved in sexual activities.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).Public concern about young people's healthy sexual development now includes debates regarding their use of information and communication technologies, the majority of which are internet-enabled.

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Ryan (1997) proposed three factors that must be considered in order to evaluate sexual interactions between two or more children: consent, equality and coercion.

Reflecting on these three factors can help to clarify when behaviour is abusive.

Four areas of knowledge are required in order to give consent: understanding of what the physical act(s) involve, their meaning, society's laws and cultural norms, and possible consequences (Mc Carthy & Thompson, 2004).

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.

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