Age of consent is a legal term to say that a person cannot consent to sexual activities (anything from kissing and fondling to all types of sex) if they are under a certain age. A person that has sex with someone who cannot consent can be charged with criminal offence. Depending on the action, the person charged with the crime can be jailed anywhere from at least 6 months to 10 years. These laws are there to protect young people from sexual harm and exploitation.
Age of consent
Age of consent in Canada is 16 years. This means that anyone 16 years or older can consent to sexual activity with people of any age.
That doesn’t mean you can’t legally have sex if you’re younger:
- For those who are 14 and 15, you can do sexual things with people who are less than 5 years older than you.
- For those who are 12 and 13, you can do sexual things with people who are less than 2 years older than you
Those younger than 12 years old cannot give legal consent to sexual activities with anyone. So, sexual activity with anyone younger than 12 is illegal.
Protection against exploitation
There’s also a second layer of protection for youths against sexual harm. The law protects anybody younger than 18 against sexual exploitation. That means sexual activity that occurs within:
- a relationship of trust, authority or dependency
- where there is other exploitation
This means whether or not a relationship with anyone younger than 18 is legal will depend on:
- the nature of the relationship
- how the relationship developed
- the age difference
- how the partner may have controlled or influenced the younger person in certain situations
People who aren’t okay with a sexual experience they have had with someone older can call SACOMSS at (514) 398-8500 for more information or to talk more about this in private.
See the links below for more information.