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The top end of the continuum may include physical force, threats of harm and overt violence.
If the relationship between two children or young people under the legal age of consent is unequal, non-consensual or coercive, it is abusive and may require a child protection or judicial response.
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).
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.
If you require assistance or would like to talk to a trained professional about the issues described in this paper, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Sexting laws provide a good example of how digital sexual activity does not necessarily align with broader age of consent laws in Australia.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.