Age of consent - Criminalizing teen sex

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Beginning with puberty (average age around 12), sexual thoughts and urges become increasingly stronger and more frequent. [...] But the age of consent, which varies somewhat from state to state, is out of sync with normal sexual development in every state. Consequently, adolescents are increasingly being charged with felonies for ordinary, consensual and developmentally normal behaviors. [...]

Utah Supreme Court justices acknowledged Tuesday that they were struggling to wrap their minds around the concept that a 13-year-old Ogden girl could be both an offender and a victim for the same act - in this case, having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. [...]

Criminalizing normative teenage sexual behavior has the unfortunate outcome of placing sexually active teens on the same sex offender registry as predatory pedophiles. For example,18 year old Joshua Lunsford, the brother of Jessica Lunsford, for whom Jessica's Laws are named, was recently arrested [...] for "unlawful sexual conduct" with a 14 year old. If convicted, he will be required to register under the same laws as John Couey - his sister's murderer. Or, ponder the fate of Genalow Wilson, who at age 17 had consensual oral sex with his 15 year old girlfriend. For this "felony" he is presently serving 10 years without possibility of parole in a Georgia prison. [...]

We watch "To Catch a Predator" and feel comforted to know that Chris Hanson and Perverted Justice have already exposed 200 potential child abusers. But the producers don't ask us to consider what it says about human nature that so many men, even with the notoriety of the show, will seek out a sexual encounter with a teen. The audience would probably shrink away with the first mention that male sexual interest in teenage girls is normal or that research does not support that teens are always harmed by sexual experiences with an adult.

Movie legend Kirk Douglas [...] became a willing victim of statutory rape when he lost his virginity to a school teacher aged just 15. In his forthcoming autobiography LET'S FACE IT - 90 YEARS OF LIVING, LOVING AND LEARNING, the veteran actor confesses he didn't realise (sic) his lover could face prison for their affair, but still doesn't regret a thing. Recalling the tryst he writes, "I had been a ragamuffin kid of 15 coping with a neighbourhood (sic) filled with gangs... Under her guidance I became a different person. I am eternally grateful. By today's standards she would have gone to jail. I had no idea we were doing something wrong. Did she?"

source: Article 'Age of Consent - Criminalizing Teen Sex' by Niki Delson;; American Chronicle; 31 May 2007