In the process of protecting adolescents from exploitative or undesired research, there exists a tension between the protection of research subjects, and excessive regulations that may disrespect the autonomy of the individual, or result in such research being unfeasible [ 9 ]. However, many other laws have different definitions — children can technically work from 16 years old, and can access information about their sexual and reproductive health as well as contraception from It is important that both minors and adults understand the law as it relates to the legal age of consent for sexual intercourse as the consequences of not knowing the law are very serious. Parental consent and adolescent risk behavior research. Twice in recent weeks, reports AP, "French courts refused to prosecute grown men for rape after they had sex with year-olds because authorities couldn't prove coercion. Adolescents are in the process of becoming fully autonomous individuals [ 32 ] and although an adolescent's degree of autonomy and cognitive ability to consent will differ from individual to individual, it is generally accepted that year-olds are old enough to make autonomous and informed decisions about their participation in a school-based adolescent sexual research project which poses minimal risk to them [ 27 ]. The act also fixed the age of consent at 16 for all sexual acts. Here's an example of how it works: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health '. Individuals aged 15 or younger in South Africa are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law. Amid public horror, the government is drafting a bill to say sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive. Ethical approaches to adolescent participation in sexual and reproductive health research. Hover with your mouse over the country to see the age, and zoom in to see the country names. An Audit of relevant laws and ethical guidelines. In , the Pretoria High Court declared certain sections section 15 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act to be unconstitutional. The Act is the first effort made by the South African government to protect research participants under law [ 4 ].