Not only did they spend time in jail and postpone any future plans, their names now sit on sex offender registries alongside those of serial rapist, child pornographers, and pedophiles.
And as is human nature, all I could think about was my own life story.
Martha Kempner Age of consent laws are meant to protect young people from exploitation by adults but in too many instances they send 18-year-old boys to jail for having consensual sex with their 15-year-old girlfriends.
The boys then end up on sex offender registries for life along side rapists and pedophiles. and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.
Should we really treat teenagers who have sex with other teenagers as criminals?
Should our legal system play any role in regulating “consensual” teen sexual behavior?
But by spring they had broken up and one fateful Wednesday he called.
California invested millions of dollars into increasing the prosecution of such cases; Delaware passed the “Sexual Predator Act of 1996,” and began “stationing state police in high schools to identify students who have become involved with adult men;” and Florida passed a law that declared “impregnation of a minor younger than age 16 by a male aged 21 or older” to be a reportable form of child abuse.
The problem is much more complicated than simply older men preying on younger women.” The argument about using age of consent laws to prevent teen pregnancy seems to have lost some of its momentum in recent years and the general consensus has returned to the idea that these laws remain important to protect young people (primarily young women) from exploitation.
The question remains, however, how do these laws distinguish between exploitative relationships and consensual relationships between young people?
(Years later as a sexuality educator, these are among the litmus tests I would suggest to teens.) The problem that really didn’t occur to me until last week, however, is that from a legal standpoint it was not a consensual relationship.
In Massachusetts—which has one of the least nuanced laws regarding age of consent—a person under 16 cannot give consent, and I was three months shy of my 16 birthday that summer.