Special Care Provisions operate to adjust the age of consent where there is a power imbalance or relationship of responsibility between two people. This means, for example, that where one person is a youth leader the other person is not able to consent to any sexual activity until they are over 18 (instead of the usual age of consent, which is 16). These provisions have existed since at least 1900 but have now been expanded to include sexual touching as well as sexual intercourse.
A young person is considered to be under the special care of any person who is their parent, grandparent, guardian, carer, teacher or person of authority at the victim’s school, leader or person of authority in connection with any religious, sporting or musical activity.
Any sexual activity between a 16 or 17 year old and a person in authority may be a criminal offence. We recommend that churches communicate this information clearly to young people, particular leaders of young people.