Rape and Consent 3: Teenagers have Sex too


I’m very concerned about rape laws and teenage sexuality. Teenagers often do have sex, whether we like it or not, and often, teenagers have sex with people who are legally adults. In these types of cases, the parents of the teenagers in question have the legal recourse of having the adult arrested on some type of sexual assault charge, and the adult will be a registered sex offender for life. While I definitely think a 50 year old should not have sexual relations with any minor, I’m very concerned about the law interfering with two young people having consensual sex.

A typical argument for prosecuting a young adult for a sex act with a minor is to say that teenage minors are not old enough to consent. However, this country seems to have no problem trying and sentencing teenage criminals as adults, and this country has no problem with 17 year olds joining the military. No, they don’t vote. They can’t drink, and they can’t smoke. Still, it seems we are picking and choosing which adult acts we allow teenagers to consent to. Even if we want to prevent teenage sex, how is prosecuting and ruining someone’s life, who is barely an adult, the right thing to do?

To be honest, I think what we should be concerned with is whether or not the teenage minor has been taken advantage of. Is there some indication that the teenager’s consent was diminished? A relationship between a 20 year old and a 17 year old is hardly an in balance of power, at first glance. We might want to be concerned with a high schooler dating a 21 and up person, but this would mainly be a concern, if the 21 year old was supplying the high schooler with alcohol. Nevertheless with the 20 year old and 17 year old, they may have shared some of the same time in high school together. Why would we ever want to ruin someone’s life over having consensual sex with someone they went to high school with? (I’m really asking. I don’t know.)

We all know teenagers can be immature and irresponsible, but they are soon going to be adults. They make choices we don’t like. Legally, when it comes to prosecutions over serious things like rape, we need to be damn sure there really is reason to convict someone, and what should we concerned about the most? Rape. Rape always implies that there either was no consent given or that the victim had a diminished capacity and COULDN’T consent. We may not or should not give teenagers adult status with regards to consent, but 18,19, 20 year old are also barely adults. It’s not like when someone turns 18 someone waves a magic wand in the air and all of a sudden they become a fully formed adult. That’s just not how development works.

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