Sunday, January 26, 2014

Age of Consent By: Carlie Coates

Imagine this scene, an eighteen year old high school senior boy is dating and having consensual sex with a fifteen year old freshman girl.  This is technically an illegal scenario in North Carolina even though they both are allowing it to happen.  If these two students broke up, before the girl turned sixteen, she could say she was raped.  The eighteen year old boy would have a challenging future after being charged with rape and possibly getting registered as a sex offender.  As impossible as this situation sounds, it happens quite frequently.  The age of consent laws in the United States are serious, but should they change? 

Before digging into the age argument, let’s give some background on sexual consent.  The age of consent is defined as “the age at which a person may marry without parental approval.  The age at which a female is legally capable of agreeing to sexual intercourse, so that a male who engages in sex with her cannot be prosecuted for statutory rape.”[1] Age of consent laws are very common in the world and date back to the colonial era in America.  In 1689, there was a ten year old bride in Virginia, and in 1880, Delaware’s age of consent was seven.[2]  As the nation has modernized, the age of consent has been raised.  Currently, the age of consent is 16 to 18 around the United States,[3] and with this age difference there is controversy on whether the age should go down, be raised or completely go away.

Referring back to the original scenario, how would you charge the eighteen year old?  He feels he has done nothing wrong due to the permission he was receiving from his ex-girlfriend.  I believe that sixteen is the perfect age for the age of consent.  However, the eighteen year old boy should not be convicted of crimes he did not commit.  Sexual consent laws are put forth for a reason, to help protect young women from rape.  If a man has raped a girl younger than sixteen, he should be found guilty, however, a man, eighteen or older, should know the consequences of dating a fifteen year old before he agrees in sexual activity.



[1] West's Encyclopedia of American Law. The Gale Group, Inc, 2008. s.v. "Age of Consent ." of Consent (accessed January 26, 2014).
[2] Discover the True Facts, "Age of Consent in European & American History." Accessed January 26, 2014.
[3] Wikipedia. 2014. s.v. "Age of sexual consent in the United States." (accessed January 26, 2014).

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