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Pikasyuu
It exists primarily because the psyche and judgment of the average young teenager is terrible at best. Most anyone in that age range will protest that they know exactly what they're doing and know everything, whereas most anyone above said range will admit that they were complete idiots as young teenagers, because, hey, we were.
There is also the fact that men and women above the age of consent are capable of taking advantage of those below it, and when someone is fourteen or thirteen, how consensual that consent was can become very, very blurry, and that is why it exists.

Are there exceptions to this rule? Probably. But the fact is that it's around to protect those who have been taken advantage of and those whose judgment towards something as adult as sex hasn't quite matured. Obviously teenagers have sex. We know. We've all done it. The entire point of the consent law, however, is to protect those who might not know what they're getting into.

You're also welcome to go watch 16 and pregnant if you're a little unconvinced.

On a slightly related topic, this http://www.familywatchdog.us/ will help you find sex offenders in your area. Las Vegas has 704, and I was shocked by how many are for sex with a minor.
Yannick
Accidental high-school pregnancies do exist, but they don't stop when you turn 18, either. Stupid people have sex and will continue to do so, we can't really stop them. tongue.gif (Though, I vaguely recall trying at some point. dry.gif)

I thought about this, and I know we need to draw a line somewhere, but I'm not sure where. I looked up an age of consent chart for the US because it varies state to state (I can't speak for it's accuracy, look at that gay sex stuff ohmy.gif ), and wanted to get a general idea of what was going on. 18 is insane, 16 is reasonable. Though, for the most part, chronological age is entirely meaningless when it comes to sex. It's all about mutual consent. Dude we totally need a sexual freedom amendment. We can't deny someone the right to consent because doing so violates their freedom and is consequently unconstitutional, particularly on the basis of age discrimination.

I feel like I should post something to corroborate why teens should be able to consent. The best thing that comes to mind truthfully is, "We're not stupid, we know what sex is." Yeah, yeah, we're all precious and ickle and innocent and haven't had our minds polluted by the big bad sex-wolf yet, but that in no way hinders our ability to make judgments on what we do and don't want to do with our own bodies. Sex is predominantly awkward and weird at first, this shouldn't be written off as an age thing.

Now, for that imaginary line, let's not draw it? Instead, off to imaginary world! Anything involving an older person and a child from elementary (5-11) downwards should be taken on a case-to-case basis. At this point, it really is just gross pedophilia, and will be written off as such 99.999% of the time. (Laws about sex offenders will remain the same.) Middle schoolers (12-14) can freely screw amongst themselves and high schoolers. Maybe older, if they prove that they're consenting before hand (for the sheer sake of avoiding a nasty trial). High schoolers (14-18) can do the aforementioned middle schoolers and anyone older (including their teachers ;D). At this point, you know what you're doing, and being with someone 16 or 30 makes little difference. It comes down to preference.

Altogether, I didn't change much. I suppose all I really did was change the age of consent to 14, on the young end of the spectrum but about the time kids start experimenting anyway, and make exceptions for those younger. This totally isn't unrealistic. We should do it, now.
Witless
gah.. and again gah...


Ok first of all the age of consent wasn't brought in to stop teenagers making "stupid mistakes". There is no force in creation that could prevent the stupidity of teenagers. I was one, I remember very clearly. Thankfully I was never a teenager on these forums so I am safe from people looking through the forum history for "past Dave"... unlike some (haha Syuu).

The reason is to protect kids, it's as simple as that. Sexual equality maybe closer today than it was in the past, but it's not there yet. Often times women are in people's mindsets considered vunerable to men. Some of those mindsets exist in the heads of rapists who act on this belief. These individuals try and act on it this and have to be stopped, and when that fails we try and prove they did it and punish them.

Then there are the individual females that "cry rape". Which never happens in films but DOES happen in reality. Simply put, some women are so afraid that their roll in the hay affair will destroy their family that they'll say anything to escape it, including that what happened was non-consenting. I don't know how common this is, it might happen a lot, or rarely. It would be pretty hard to prove either way. But when someone charged with rape pleads non-guilty. It is almost always their defense that the woman is one of these women.

If the woman's an adult then it's a long arduous drawn out process of figuring out what state of mind the woman was in (and up coming is the key point) treating her like a mentally mature adult.


Kids are even more vulnerable than adults, they have little power, others are responsible for them their support and well being, and like it or not they will grow up to realise just how immature and little they knew when they were kids. To people wandering around preying on vulnerable people they are a field day. It's why parents are over protective they know ultimately there are times when there is not much they can do protect their kids 100% of the time (though the scarier ones do seem to shoot for 100%).

The notion that people could use a "but, that 13 year old girl was dressing to be looked at and was eye flirting with me" as a legitimate excuse in court is laughable, but you can bet the moment the age of consent curtain goes down, every rapist with a half decent lawyer would be jumping on that band wagon so friggin fast it would be horrific.

But to my knowledge a limited version of "case by case" basis does exist. Judges already do have the power to give out lenient sentences in cases where the age difference wasn't that large in the UK and the USA (just wiki'd that) but just happened to straddle age of consent barrier. In addition to that is the overwhelming majority of cases where things simply don't go to court. People who genuinely are ready do what they do without rushing to the authorities for approval. I don't know many people who waited until the age of consent before starting their sex lives, but they don't all have a long string of court cases behind them either.

The law and culture don't always line up, because culture can be contradictory without chaos following. But when the law gets vague, people abuse it way more than they do when it's absolute. Currently the age of consent removes people's abilities to say "she/he was asking for it". In the court room when the person is below a certain age, which is the reason it is in place.

Regardless what the law says, someone is going to be able to abuse it or have issue with it, but being over protective of kids does a hell of a lot less damage than being underprotective.
michael1384
I'm bad at talking about sex, mainly because the idea terrifies me, but here we go.

16 seems to be the reasonable age. If someone over that age has sex with someone under that age, it can be considered to be paedophilia. If two people under that age have sex, not much can be done, teenagers do stupid things. They always have and always will.
Yannick
16's good, but if someone older has sex with someone underage, and the younger person is sitting there going "I wanted to do this", and this person is clearly mentally stable, don't incriminate the older person because of it.
Pikasyuu
But what criteria is there to judge? How can you say whether or not that younger person really knew what they were getting into and whether or not said older person manipulated them? Someone with more age and experience is capable of manipulating someone into thinking they want something, it happens all the time. The age of consent exists because there's no way to really distinguish either way outside of looking at the events that led up to sex.
Yannick
Then let the younger person make his/her own mistakes with his/her protest while the older people (judges) can stop pretending they know what's best for everyone. wink.gif

I'm pretty uncomfortable with people not in high school yet having sex, so I can see why we should protect the younger kids, but there comes a point in your life where you're capable of making your own decisions and should live with the consequences. This happens way before you turn 18.
Phyllis
QUOTE (Yannick @ Apr 8 2010, 11:52 AM) *
Though, for the most part, chronological age is entirely meaningless when it comes to sex. It's all about mutual consent. Dude we totally need a sexual freedom amendment. We can't deny someone the right to consent because doing so violates their freedom and is consequently unconstitutional, particularly on the basis of age discrimination.

Protecting children from predators is not unconstitutional or discriminatory. Witless explained why a lot better than I can:

QUOTE (Witless @ Apr 8 2010, 02:23 PM) *
Kids are even more vulnerable than adults, they have little power, others are responsible for them their support and well being, and like it or not they will grow up to realise just how immature and little they knew when they were kids. To people wandering around preying on vulnerable people they are a field day.


QUOTE (Yannick @ Apr 8 2010, 11:52 AM) *
High schoolers (14-18) can do the aforementioned middle schoolers and anyone older (including their teachers ;D). At this point, you know what you're doing, and being with someone 16 or 30 makes little difference. It comes down to preference.

Putting aside the whole "ew" factor of a grown man sleeping with a 14 year old girl, that wouldn't work for other reasons. Pretty much all universities have policies that prevent professors from sleeping with their students. The vast majority of those students are adults, so it's nothing to do with their ability to give informed consent. It's to do with bias. A teacher probably isn't going to be impartial about grading someone who has sex with them on a regular basis.

Do you really think there is little difference between being with someone who is 16 and someone who is 30? I think that 16 is a good age for the line to be drawn when it comes to consent, but there's still a world of difference between a 16 year old and a 30 year old. Someone who is 30 has nearly twice as much life experience. And 16 year olds...well. Let's just say I remember with painful clarity exactly what it was like to be that age. I wish I didn't.

QUOTE (Yannick @ Apr 10 2010, 01:52 PM) *
16's good, but if someone older has sex with someone underage, and the younger person is sitting there going "I wanted to do this", and this person is clearly mentally stable, don't incriminate the older person because of it.

No matter how emotionally mature a 14 year old may seem, no matter how well-read and intelligent s/he is, s/he is still a child. I've no problem with, say, a 14 year old sleeping with a 15 or 16 year old, but with an adult? There's really no way that adult isn't taking advantage.
Yannick
QUOTE (candice @ Apr 11 2010, 03:36 AM) *
Do you really think there is little difference between being with someone who is 16 and someone who is 30? I think that 16 is a good age for the line to be drawn when it comes to consent, but there's still a world of difference between a 16 year old and a 30 year old. Someone who is 30 has nearly twice as much life experience. And 16 year olds...well. Let's just say I remember with painful clarity exactly what it was like to be that age. I wish I didn't.

Oh, there's definitely a difference, but it doesn't matter. Judge people about how much you like them, not how old they are. In a lot of ways, I can guess the 30 year old is going to be a lot better.

QUOTE (candice @ Apr 11 2010, 03:36 AM) *
No matter how emotionally mature a 14 year old may seem, no matter how well-read and intelligent s/he is, s/he is still a child. I've no problem with, say, a 14 year old sleeping with a 15 or 16 year old, but with an adult? There's really no way that adult isn't taking advantage.

S/he's only a child because we've defined them as such. 15-16 year olds are just as capable of taking advantage of someone as an adult is. Even if the adult is merely using them, the kid should still be able to decide whether or not it's a situation s/he wants to be in. You can have sex because you genuinely like someone, or.. you can have sex to have sex. If it's the latter, no harm done. The former gets icky and painful when deceit is involved, but dude that's true of sooo many relationships that don't involve huge age gaps.
Pikasyuu
Can we address how being manipulated into something you may feel shame over for years and years afterwards despite having said you wanted it at the time in an altered state of mind is different from 'making your own mistakes?'

Watch: Oh, Sally feels shame about her body and is having problems being intimate with someone she's actually in love with because that twenty year old manipulated her into having sex when she was much younger.

And on a less extreme scale, many people regret doing things along those lines in a big way. People who enjoyed losing their virginity DO exist.

QUOTE
the kid should still be able to decide whether or not it's a situation s/he wants to be in.


The operative word is kid. No one trusts a KID to be able to determine their own sexual maturity or to be impervious to manipulation. The implication otherwise is horrifying.

QUOTE
You can have sex because you genuinely like someone, or.. you can have sex to have sex. If it's the latter, no harm done.


There are so many exceptions to that, I'd break the forum listing them all.
Daria
QUOTE (Yannick @ Apr 11 2010, 09:14 AM) *
QUOTE (candice @ Apr 11 2010, 03:36 AM) *
Do you really think there is little difference between being with someone who is 16 and someone who is 30? I think that 16 is a good age for the line to be drawn when it comes to consent, but there's still a world of difference between a 16 year old and a 30 year old. Someone who is 30 has nearly twice as much life experience. And 16 year olds...well. Let's just say I remember with painful clarity exactly what it was like to be that age. I wish I didn't.

Oh, there's definitely a difference, but it doesn't matter.


When I was sixteen, I felt like I was on the top of the world, I knew everything and I knew who I was. Nothing was too much for me to do, I could handle anything, I felt I was mature and an adult.
That's coming up to being 6 years ago and I look back at myself and wonder how I ever felt that way. The idea of hanging around with 16 year olds as my friends is kind of weird- my youngest friends sit at being about 17/18, but that's only because I met them through university after starting 3 years later than my age group (scottish/ english uni's start at different ages blah blah blah). Anyway, it hits me again and again how.. well, not immature they are but, for want of a better word, inexperienced with the world they are. And I am only 21! I fully expect to look back, when I'm 30, and see my 21-year old self and cringe just as I do when I look back to being 16. However the age gap seems to get smaller as the two parties get older- it feels like a huge gap between being 21 and being 16, but less of one between a 21 y/o and a 26 y/o.

Anyway, babble over: teenagers know nothing, but they don't know that at the time. And no amount of sex ed or education otherwise will change that. (Adults only think they know more than teenagers, because they have lived longer and had to put up with more crap, but they also look back on themselves and see how immature they have seemingly been at times.) The age of consent laws are there to vaguely protect people from bad situations. Personally, I find it funny that in the UK, you're legally allowed to create life before you're allowed to buy yourself a pint of beer.

Btw many of the examples of teens being pregnant are way more complicated than just "they had unprotected sex, woops, aren't they silly!". They usually involve a whole bunch of lovely issues to do with being loved and valued as a child, relationships, an escape from poverty and their family, and wanting to do something they can be proud of.
craziness
Very interesting question. How can we make a law deciding when people are mature enough to partake in sex or drink alcohol? Everyone is going to do it when they are going to do it regardless, so I don't really see the point. Maturity is so subjective and in many instances has absolutely nothing to do with age. I was once violated/taken advantage of when I was younger, but I don't regret anything as I understand that it wasn't my fault. Perhaps it was a consequence of my young age, and it was definitely an unpleasant and upsetting experience. Regardless, today I enjoy sex tremendously. Being the sensual person that I am, my experience with sex is very unique. I am completely fascinated with it because it is such an amazing physical and emotional connection. I don't feel that my ability to enjoy sex has been tainted by that negative experience I had when I was younger. It has helped shaped the person I have become and it was a hurdle I had to overcome, but now I am able to enjoy sex without that experience even crossing my mind.
Pikasyuu
The point is the law itself, not whether one person or another will be scarred by molestation. I'm glad you aren't, but not everyone comes to terms with things like that and many would rather it had never happened.
Yannick
We can't prevent everything that will in any way upset anyone. We can't even get close. I know this doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but people should just offer the best advice they can rather than forbid the thing. Point out that these sorts of relationships are generally frowned upon, let it be known how the younger person might feel about it in the future, etc. but still let non-adults make their own decisions. If you make a bad decision, be a big kid about it and live with the consequences. Btw, here if you're underage and pregnant, you can get an abortion as long as you have the money and a ride home. Mommy and daddy don't have to sign your permission slip. While I wholly support that, looking back in a few years and thinking "Oh god, what did I do?" can cause a crapton of emotional trauma. Yeah, a significant amount of thought probably goes into doing that, but it's not like sex is (always) a spur of the moment incident.

There are a considerable amount of things people will regret and virtually no laws from stopping them from doing it in the first place. I *don't* understand why sex is such a big issue.
Pikasyuu
Did you really just argue, 'It's okay if someone is molested by an older person while they aren't in their right mind because people get shot every day and that's wrong too! We should just give advice about it, because talking heals all!'

The law is there so that when someone does get taken advantage of in a way they didn't necessarily sign up for, there are consequences. You may as well say, 'Not EVERYONE is going to get aids from barebacking, and it feels great! So for anyone who DOES get aids, just offer support!'

Really?

eta: Crazi, I love your attitude towards sex on a non-argument basis. I'm very sorry anyone did that to you, but I admire the hell out of how you've grown and what came of it, and most of all, how you view your body. All women should love themselves as much and understand sex isn't just some stage to be judged upon, it's a connection. So. biggrin.gif
Tarantio
In an ideal world, dealing with unwanted consequences of underage sex would be something everyone was mature and stable enough to do, but people aren't like that;
From the kids' point of view, an STD or pregnancy while underage can be anything from a slightly traumatic experience to learn from, to a life-ruining, utterly horrible event. Either way it changes the life of the kid, and I can't imagine that this would often be for the better. The consequences can be severe; if someone of-age is involved, there can be jail time (though this is the issue this thread is talking about, I think it's still relevant to point that out, as the laws aren't likely to change at all). If the kid's parents aren't understanding then it can tear a family apart. Then there's the reaction of the kid themselves, made worse still by the fact that it's highly likely that they're underinformed as to how to deal with whatever situation they find themselves in. Sexual education is still a long way from being close to decent in a lot of places, and panic and fear can make anyone do stupid things.

However, the law is much less involved with restricting minors from having sex than it is with punishing of-age people for having sex with minors, and rightly so, I believe. Taking this argument from a different angle, that of the parents of the affected child, I ask: what would you expect a parent to think that their underage child was having sex? Worse still, that the person they were having that sex with was an adult, who was knowingly breaking the law? I'm not a parent, but I can imagine that I would be horrified by that sort of thing happening.

The law, in this case, serves multiple purposes; it isn't primarily to infringe upon the freedoms of children. Those that are mature enough, have some form of knowledge, a mature partner and understanding parents might have cause to feel that way, but I would guess that that kind of person is few and far between, and if they're such stable and sensible kids they should be able to be patient enough to wait a few short years unitl they're able to partake legally. The law is there to protect children from predatory adults, to punish severely any such individuals, and to protect the parents' interests in their child as well, and if I'm lucky enough to have kids of my own one day I'll be thankful that such a law exists.

QUOTE (Yannick @ Apr 12 2010, 10:19 PM) *
We can't prevent everything that will in any way upset anyone. We can't even get close. I know this doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but people should just offer the best advice they can rather than forbid the thing. Point out that these sorts of relationships are generally frowned upon, let it be known how the younger person might feel about it in the future, etc. but still let non-adults make their own decisions. If you make a bad decision, be a big kid about it and live with the consequences.


Two things with this don't rub very well with me; firstly, fuzzy guidelines in place of laws is a ridiculously stupid idea. Even as they are now, laws are open to interpretations of the judges that uphold them, and the same two crimes might have completely different outcomes in courts. Removing the written letter of the law in cases such as this doesn't grant freedom to those seeking it nearly as much as it enables those seeking to exploit the weak or unprotected. For similar reasons, firearms are mostly illegal here; true, violent crime is still a problem, and gun crime is a whole other can of worms, but the rationale behind it is similar, and the results are clear to see: Gun crime rates on Wikipedia. Pay attention to the UK versus the US right across the field. Now imagine that the age of consent laws were structured similarly to gun laws in the US, and think of how many more disastrous teenage pregnancies and STD's there would be.

Secondly, the law is built around incriminating offenders. Sexual consent between two people must always be mutual, without shadow of a doubt, or someone is being abused in one of the worst possible ways. Being able to give that consent requires a degree of experience, maturity and responsibility that the vast majority of children lack. As Witless pointed out before, kids are dumb. Every single one of them. It's not their fault, and they aren't worse people for it; indeed, many kids are fine human beings that put a lot of adults to shame, and are capable of making well informed, sensible decisions and living with the consequences. But they wont know that about themselves for sure until such time as they've been tested, and the repercussions of those kids not being able to deal well with unexpected circumstances can be, as I've said, harsh. Devastatingly so, often. Adults, on the other hand, are also idiots. Every one of them. I don't know anyone who hasn't made decisions in their life that they regret, or made stupid mistakes when they should know better; and there's the key phrase. Adults should know better, and we expect that of them. Kids may know better, but to expect it of them is vastly unfair, and this is the source of the supposed "imposition" the law provides. If a fourteen year old has sex with an adult, the kid doesn't get put on a sex offenders list, nor do they get sent to jail. They won't get off easy, of course, but neither do they have the full force of the law on them. The adult, however, should have known better, and their punishment fits the crime.

/rant
Yannick
Bleh, internet died.

Syuu: Nooo, that's not what I said. Being molested and having sex is different. Whether or not something is molestation should be based on what's actually going on, not how old someone is. If you aren't hurting anyone else (shooting, for instance), you're not doing anything wrong and it's hardly fair to hold you accountable for how they feel. Hurting yourself however, should be legal, however much people advise against it.

Hey, if you're dumb enough to have unprotected sex, you're fault if you catch something.

Reading Tara's post now.
Pikasyuu
But that's where that law comes into play - that you cannot knowingly spread AIDS? And yes, molestation and having sex are different, however, some people who are pressured into something don't always understand that they are being molested and not just making a mistake. For example, a woman was at a bar drunk and ran into her ex boyfriend. They went outside and he started trying to kiss her and get her clothes off, and she pushed him away. He continued pulling her skirt down, with her pulling it back up. This went on for a long time, and finally, she just stopped resisting and let him have his way. This is rape. She did not understand that it was, in fact, rape, and it probably wouldn't be upheld upon prosecution, but she blamed herself for finally giving in because she was drunk and tired.

If that kind of thing can happen to an adult woman, it's very easy for the same basic thing to happen to someone younger. They may think they willingly had sex because they were drunk or something like that (which is again why alcohol and drugs are illegal for minors, you f*ck everyone else libertarians), when in fact, they were taken advantage of. The implications of that sort of thing has the power to ruin someone's body image very easily, which is why we try to protect minors.
Yannick
Bah. S**t, I think you guys are right. I'm not happy about it, but, gah.
Pikasyuu
LOL WHAT? NO IZZY NO. *tackles* NOOOO. btw, steal my avatar and join the club. conforrrrrm. (consume obey)
Tarantio
No one's asking you to be happy about it; that's the beauty of this life, I reckon. Disagreeing and arguing your case well gives you muchos respect in my books. Syuuko's too, I'd warrant. If everyone just lay down and accepted everything in life for what it is, the world would be a very bad place indeed.

Hmm, that's not meant to sound quite so patronising. Gah sad.gif
Yannick
But I didn't feel like I was arguing my case well. sad.gif I felt like I was selfishly defending what I wanted, and felt mildly guilty about not really caring how many other people might get hurt if the law changed. (The law should still change. 16, 18 is insane.) ..Wait. Guilt? B-12 shortage. Neeeeed Monnnsssttteerrr.
Pikasyuu
actually, you argued very well for an extremely tough subject. there honestly is no real argument for changing the law, but you pitched the best one there was. hats off - hopefully your logic for it is a little more organized. this is why i always jump on you in issues. i learn something, and i enjoy picking your brain. as i said in irc, syuu is never bored if there's an izzy around. :P
Daria
Hey, just because there's a law about it, doesn't mean you have to follow it. Well... unless you're going to be caught. I like to bastardise and apply a kind of Shroedinger's cat theory to law.
Yannick
Hahaha, well, yeah. As stated earlier, people are pretty much going to do whatever they want anyway.. Personally, I don't follow laws I think are stupid. Take that.. however.
Yannick
I didn't see Syuu's post earlier. Thanks. smile.gif I will pwn you in one of these threads some day. tongue.gif

Yeah, okay, so this one's kinda dead. New issue anyone?
gerbilfromhell
What about age differences within minors, or narrower differences in age between technically minors and adults? There's a lot of issues around age-of-consent law other than whether there should be one in the first place.

I know that in the US (and I assume a whole lot of other countries), sex between two minors of extreme age differences (16 and 8, for an example I'd really rather not think about) is usually regarded as inherently nonconsensual, though this isn't always spelled out in the law how it's dealt with depends on case to case. If you've already grouped everyone under 16, 17 or 18 as unable to give consent to adults, how do you go about making a sort of consent gradient to deal with cases involving two minors. An 11 year old certainly seems less able to understand/give consent than a 15 or 16 year old. Or, as an odd part of New York law pulled from Wikipedia: "On the other hand, someone who is 16 years old commits a crime by voluntarily having sex with anyone who cannot themselves legally consent to sex, including another 16-year-old, even if this "victim" is actually older. (People v. Bowman, 88 Misc. 2d 50; 387 N.Y.S.2d 982 [City Crim. Ct. 1976]; Matter of Jessie C., 164 A.D.2d 731; 565 N.Y.S.2d 941 [4 Dept., 1991].) In effect, mutual crimes are committed when two unmarried 16-year-old individuals voluntarily have sex with each other in New York State, each being the "victim" of the other."

Cases of narrow age difference prosecution really bother me though. While this is definitely far from common, there have been cases where even a couple that has been together for some time (relatively speaking) has legal issues when one partner passes the age of consent and the state or province they're in has laws which either don't make an exception for cases of people only, say, two years apart in age. Those prison terms (for good reason) can be *long*, and sometimes the prosecutor/state feels obligated to uphold the letter of the law even if it's clearly not the spirit.

It's also scary to realize that many people still don't think of Syuu's example of the woman who was "finally giving in because she was drunk and tired" is rape. There are plenty of hazier borderline examples, but that definitely isn't one of them.
Silver Star Angel of Da Towers
My issue with ages of consent is the automatic assumption that once a person reaches a certain age, they are automatically capable of clear judgment. They are also assuming that anyone under a certain age is incapable of advanced judgment.

I do think it's important though, to keep a 40 year old from having sex with a 13 year old, for example.
leopold
I'm not entirely sure whether a person's ability to judge comes into it. It's too hard to establish whether someone is capable of good judgement or not at any age. I'm sure there's plenty of level headed 14 year olds who find the law a bit of an ass on this one. But that said, I have been guilty of many bad calls in my life and I'm still capable of getting it hopelessly wrong even now, despite being well past 16. And I'm sure I'm not alone.

There's a need to protect minors from abuse and a line needs to be drawn somewhere. 16 seems like an appropriate place to draw it (in the UK, I can't speak for anywhere else) as it's the age at which people leave school and can start deciding what to do with their lives.
Hobbes
There's an awful lot of different issues surrounding a debate on the age of consent, I'm not sure if it is actually possible to arrive at any sort of conclusion.

I've often discussed the topic with friends - mostly in a devil's advocate kinda' way - and it usually ends up with me labouring one particular point. It has always seemed to me that the age (16 in the UK) has been chosen almost arbitrarily: what makes 16 the "right age" ? Once someone has their sixteenth birthday, that makes them mature enough to make a decision about their sexual experiences rather than have them legally controlled?

Some of my friends have said, "Yes. At 16, you know what you are doing. Before that, perhaps not?". This can be coupled with conversations I had in college:

Me: "So, would you have sex with someone who is below the age of consent?"
Them: "No, they must be at least 16!"
M: "Hmm, well let's say it is 5 minutes before their birthday. How about then?"
T: "Well, okay, I guess that would be okay."
M: "How about an hour before?"
T: "Well, an hour's not much..."
M: "A day..."
T: ...
M: "A week..."
T: ...
M: "A month, a year?"

In some ways you can argue that age is meaningless. It is a creation. We choose to define ourselves by these annual milestones from time to time, but I question how meaningful they are when every one of us has probably met sixteen-year-olds that vary considerably in their maturity.

I'm thinking that perhaps the age of consent HAS to be a little arbitrary. Or, at least, it is set in order to provide a comfortable margin for error? Yes, there might be plenty of 14 year olds who are incredibly "adult" and mature in their decision making. And equally, there may be several 18 year olds who really have no clue whatsoever. Maybe 16 is just the "safer" middle ground? Politically, perhaps it is well-recognised that 16 doesn't really signify any definite moment in human maturity... it just happens to be the better option?

And that's without raising some of the other arguments. I often hear: "How come, at 16, you are legally able to have sex, but not allowed to buy pornography?" Which might imply either raising the consenting age to 18, or lowering the age to 16 for buying pornography? Neither of which are particularly good options.

Plus, the law in the UK isn't just concerning intercourse: it tries to prevent intercourse, oral sex, and mutual masturbation. Essentially, genital contact. So that might raise other questions about what IS acceptable behaviour for those under 16? And why?

Hmm..

Perhaps the most important thing to try and keep in mind why the age of consent in the UK, exists, and why it is 16. Historically, before 1875, the age of consent was 12*. Many young girls were being sold to individuals, or to brothels, and this became a concern for debate. The house of commons changed the age to 13, but there was still demand for it to be increased further. In the mid 1880s, an account was published detailing just how easy it was to 'purchase' a 13-year-old girl for the purpose of prostitution. Scandal/outrage/etc led to the '1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act' which increased the age of consent to 16.

...

Incidentally, it also made all sexual contact between men an offence.

...


I'm not really giving my opinion on the matter here, particularly, just sharing some possible arguments? biggrin.gif





* actually, prior to the 1820's it was ten - and punishable by death.
Daria
QUOTE
"How come, at 16, you are legally able to have sex, but not allowed to buy pornography?"

Some would argue that those two years between legally being able to have sex and legally being able to buy pornography allow you to mature in the head and realise that pornography is fiction: it doesn't represent real things, real people or real roles in society.
Then again, as soon as you start having vaginal sex, you're risking having children. *shrug*
Hobbes
QUOTE (Daria @ May 21 2010, 10:35 PM) *
QUOTE
"How come, at 16, you are legally able to have sex, but not allowed to buy pornography?"

Some would argue that those two years between legally being able to have sex and legally being able to buy pornography allow you to mature in the head and realise that pornography is fiction: it doesn't represent real things, real people or real roles in society.
Then again, as soon as you start having vaginal sex, you're risking having children. *shrug*


Indeed! But I suppose the argument asks why, at 16, you are considered mature enough to have sex with someone (which has the potential to lead to several negative, life-changing outcomes) but not mature enough to 'understand' pornography?

Again, I am starting to think that the law is almost purposely a little bit wishy-washy with good reason: there needs to be SOME kind of guideline, that is legally enforceable, to protect against molestation of minors etc, but it is also impossible to find a perfect moment when maturity is reached in every person's life.

I guess it is like someone arguing, "Why can't I drive at 80mph down this road?! I am a very careful driver! I won't cause any accidents or hit anyone! A 40mph limit is ridiculous for me - why should I be limited because of some other idiots?!" The person could be completely incapable of having an accident, and would therefore pose no risk to anybody, but statistically more accidents occur over 40mph on that particular road so it's the safest option. Again, like age, the number might be ever-so-slightly abitrary. Perhaps 43mph is the actual cut-off point, or 38mph. But a generalisation has to be made.

Statistically, maybe more 'accidents' could occur with sexual relationships for under 16s?
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