Should we lower the age of consent to protect teenagers?
In 16th-century England, the age of consent was set at 10 years old in an effort to protect young girls from sexual abuse by adult men. In 1875, parliament raised the age of consent to 13; in 1885, it upped it to 16. Now, a leading public health advocate has proposed that the United Kingdom bring the age down again in light of the high proportion of British adolescents who are having sex - with one another - before they're legally capable of granting consent. Lowering the age of consent to 15 (where it stands in Sweden) or 14 (where it's set in Germany and Italy) would "take these enormous pressures off children and young people" who feel they need to hide their sexual activity, said John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health. [...]
The argument for relaxing age of consent laws is typically focused on protecting older sex partners, who can be aggressively prosecuted for having sex with (sometimes, only slightly) younger people. [...]
"Predatory adults would be given legitimacy to focus their attentions on even younger teenagers, and there is a real risk that society would be sending out the message that sex between 14- to 15-year-olds is also acceptable," said Liz Dux, a lawyer who has represented sex abuse victims of British broadcaster Jimmy Savile.
source: Article 'Should We Lower the Age of Consent to Protect Teenagers?' by Amanda Hess; www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/11/18/lowering_the_age_of_consent_u_k_public_health_advocate_john_ashton_wants.html; Slate; 18 November 2013