I Really Want to Know…


This is going to be a simple post. I want to know why minors, say 14 of age, can’t consent to sex with adults, but they can be charged as “adults” for crimes. It seems that we all know, when thinking about our past, that our decisions regarding sex were immature as younger teenagers. Most of us would claim that a 4o something having sex with a 14 year old is molestation, but yet, we can AND do charge 14 year olds as adults.

Yes, we want justice for things like murder and burglary. I’m not saying teenagers shouldn’t be punished for crimes, but they are NOT adults. We will prosecute adults for having sex with someone under, usually, around 16, even if  the child says “yes.” Why? Because, they are not adults. They do not have adult brains, and they are not finished maturing and developing. Thus, they cannot give consent to an ADULT sexual experience. I agree with this sentiment whole heartedly.  What sense does it, then, make to treat them as adults in ANY other circumstances?

The media certainly doesn’t help in certain criminal cases involving minors. They like to show the shocking cases of particularly brutal murders by young teenagers, and we are tempted to call them monsters. There is an immediate gut reaction to want to punish as much as possible. There is a reaction in us that wants to make an exception to the idea of the immaturity and underdevelopment of minors in these cases.

This is my questions to my readers: if we can’t trust young teenagers with such a simple thing as deciding on adult sexual encounters, how then, can we trust their decision making process, in the realm of ADULT crime?

 

Please, I want to know your thinking. Please feel free to comment.

Advertisements

8 Comments

  1. I believe this apparent contradiction is a historical legacy. Americans, being more religious (in both the traditional and non-traditional sense) than the average country, are very uncomfortable about sex compared to other developed nations, so many restrictions are placed upon sexual activity. We also have a long tradition of extreme punishments for relatively minor crimes, and imprison far more of our own people than any other First World nation.

    Like

    • Thank you for commenting! I think to some degree your right, but I’m beginning to think the whole juvenile justice system needs revamped. Yes, it is a problem that 14 year olds should probably serve more than the “maxim juvenile sentence,” which depending on the state would keep them locked up until 21-25. Still, can’t we come up with a different system in dealing with these young offenders besides a choice between a slap on the wrist for murder and life in prison?

      Like

      • I’m all for reform in both the criminal justice system AND our sex attitudes. I was trying to place the contradiction in a simple, historical context.

        Of course another aspect on top of everything is the fact that humans don’t behave consistently, or do what we say we will. Technology changes and laws gradually (too slowly for my taste) evolve, but we are stuck with the identical set of emotions and psychological problems as our prehistoric ancestors. We act like many other mammals, but pretend we aren’t animals.

        Like

  2. First, I’m not for harsh punishments for most juveniles, and I think we way overdo trying kids as adults.

    But I can see some of the rationale here. With underage sex, there is an adult involved who is supposed to know better. When a kid commits a crime alone, or with other kids, there’s no adult that we can pin the blame on. I certainly think that in cases where there is an adult who talks a kid into committing a crime, we pin the blame on the adult, and make a lot of allowances for the kid just doing what they were told. But when there are no adults involved, people want to pin that same level of blame on the kid, which may not be justified. Also, when a crime is committed by a group of people of similar age, some just over eighteen, and some just under, can we really separate out responsibility to just those over eighteen? It’s just really complicated.

    Like

    • It is complicated. I’ll give you that, but my problem is that brains are not fully developed until 21-25 ish. There is even more variety if the minor used drugs, was abused, or worse suffered brain damage. Personality disorders aren’t even allowed to be diagnosed until adulthood; because, personality isn’t fully developed in minors. Yet, we immediately want to call teenage and child murders sociopaths. Sociopath is basically anti-social personality disorder. If the personality isn’t formed, if the brain isn’t developed, how can we charge them fully as adults. I know the law has to pick a specific age to determine legal adulthood, and it will always have some grey areas no matter which age is picked. I don’t think a 16 year old murder should get out of prison at 18 or 21 or even 25, but I think, as society, we too eagerly give life-long prison sentence to minors. They are, in fact, still children. Teenagers are older children, and we shouldn’t be as forgiving to them as we would be to a 10 year old, but to treat them as fully adults, is highly irrational.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s