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According to the Norwegian Penal Code (2005, Sections 302, 304 and 305) sexual behaviour, sexual activity, sexual relations with and sexual assault of children under the age of 16 are all punishable by law. The terms describe the different degrees of severity of sexual activity. (Ministry of Justice and Public Security, 2008-2009, p. 211). Sexual acts and relations committed against children under the age of 14 is counted as sexual assault (the Penal Code, 2005, Section 299). Sexual assault is the most severe form of sexual activity according to the Penal Code (Ministry of Justice and Public Security, 2008-2009, p. 215-216). Several actions that defined as problematic and harmful sexual behaviour are therefore affected by the Penal Code and are defined as criminal offences. The minimum age of criminal responsibility is 15 years of age in Norway (the Penal Code, 2005, Section 20 a), which means children under 15 who commit criminal actions are not criminally liable. The Police is still able to investigate cases committed by children older than 12, and can often be the first agency to be informed of harmful sexual behaviour committed by children. Interrogations usually take place in a Children’s Advocacy Center (Statens Barnehus), as they can coordinate further assistance for the child.
The age of consent is 16 in Norway, meaning children under 16 cannot normally give their consent to sexual relations. Therefore, the prosecuting and judicial authorities will, when a child under 16 has been reported, consider mutuality and equanimity of age, maturity and cognitive functioning before a potential trial.