Age of consent laws vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, though most jurisdictions set the age of consent in the range 14 to 18.
The laws may also vary by the type of sexual act, the gender of the participants, or other restrictions such as abuse of a position of trust; some jurisdictions may also make allowances for minors engaged in sexual acts with each other, rather than a single age.
But in that respect the law has not changed, says Ms. In the case of, say, a 15- and a 19-year-old, if the 19-year-old is the skating coach, "it would be a crime, as it has always been." "The fact that it's less than five years doesn't make it automatically legal.
It just means that it's not automatically illegal." Another area of concern for critics is that it remains illegal for anyone under 18 to participate in anal intercourse - critics say this targets gay male teenagers - even though the law has been struck down as unconstitutional by many provincial courts of appeal.
"It makes a discriminatory distinction among various types of sexual activity that are not supported on health or other objective grounds," says Kelli Dilworth, the interim executive director of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health.
In the 12th century, Gratian, the influential founder of canon law in medieval Europe, accepted age of puberty for marriage to be around 12 (girls) and around 14 (boys) but acknowledged consent to be meaningful if the children were older than 7.
"No one's going to tell on you unless it's a horrible relationship.
But it might make you a little more cautious." London, Ont., youth worker Heather Miko-Kelly agrees that most teens are unaware of the past or current age of consent. Drinking laws and consent laws - I think teenagers believe that these laws were made by adults, which they are, and they don't think they're applicable to them." Still, the new law may act as a safety net for those aged 14 to 16 who slipped through the legal cracks because they often say they consented to sexual activity even in high-risk situations, Ms. "I saw a lot of patterns in court cases," she says of her findings in her outreach efforts.
Under a law that went into effect yesterday as part of the federal government's omnibus crime bill passed in February, a teen under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex with an adult five or more years older.
The bill is intended to target sexual predators, but many youth advocates say that by focusing on age, the new law will confuse teens, make their sexual activities more clandestine and expose them to other risks, including abuse, early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman and pubic hair for a man.