Shenk 1 Sierra Shenk Aughenbaugh English 12 07 February 2014 Statutory Rape Reputation Leading Towards Only Males Can the law justly send teenagers to jail for having consensual, non-forcible sex? The answer is yes in some states and no in many others. Why the inconsistencies when it comes to statutory rape? “Because every state has a statutory rape law in some form, this case presents a challenge to a long and continuing tradition of criminal laws that confine men for what could be consensual sex with minors who are close to the age of majority” (Colb). Statutory rape continues to be a controversial debate in America, largely because no one can agree on the age of consent of a person. One person may be ready for sex before another; that knowledge creates a serious issue when making laws that affect all people. Statutory rape laws are discriminatory toward males because it criminalizes consensual sex between teenagers, the age of consent is inconsistent across the nation, and it allows for a culture of dishonesty. The premise behind the laws of statutory rape is that certain ages of young people are incapable of giving consent for sexual behavior. Due to many actions of sexual behavior that involve young people at the ages under eighteen with someone eighteen or older has been causing many debates on the outcome on these situations. These situations have led to arguments across the nation and, in some cases, the lives of males that are involved. Males that have been in issues with statutory rape are often criticized, when there is a possibility that no one has heard the entire truth or the whole story. People assume that when a male is involved it is entirely his fault, however, without both sides of the story, no judgment can be made. Statutory rape laws are Shenk 2 mainly to keep young people safe, which should be stating consensual sex among teens should not be criminalized. Because of raging parents and furious teens, males are getting convicted for statutory rape and are left with nothing. While fighting through the battle, even if they are guilty, the process begins; the criticism, the hatred and even disbelief will occur. In the end if found guilty, the male will be considered a sex offender, and afterwards from being named as a sex offender they are then listed in sites such as “Megan’s Law.” This allows the public to see each and every sex offender in the area surrounding them. One will stay a sex offender until the law gives the consent to be released from the title. If an “adult,” eighteen or older, is having sexual contact with minors less than eighteen years of age, then one can become listed as a sex offender for having sexual contact with one under the age of consent: The truth is that these laws cannot make such distinctions but lawmakers seem to have attempted to account for variations in relationships. The laws are certainly more nuanced than I had expected, though above anything else, these laws are complicated. Each state has its own law and decides a number of factors for itself, including age of consent, minimum age of ‘victim,’ age differential, and minimum age of ‘perpetrator’ in order to prosecute. (Kempner) If there is an age differential then the victim is above the 18 years of age and the age of the younger partner is at the age under 18, then without a parents consent this would be considered to be illegal which can have many consequences to come. Understanding that the law is in fact the law show that if one is eighteen or older having “consensual” sex with a minor can lead to court hearings and even jail. The minimum age of defendant in order to prosecute is the age below which an individual cannot be prosecuted for engaging in sexual activities with minors Shenk 3 (Sylvester). If the female is at minimum age of giving consent then there is no possible way to engage charges against the male; while the age of consent varies currently, each state requires a minimum age of consent of at least sixteen years of age (Smith). Recently, studies show that sending juveniles to homes and then eventually jail causes more problems to the juvenile then it does correcting their mistakes. “Rape is no excess, no aberration, no accident, no mistake--it embodies sexuality as the culture defines it. As long as these definitions remain intact--that is, as long as men are defined as sexual aggressors and women are defined as passive receptors lacking integrity--men who are exemplars of the norm will rape women.” (Dictionary) While many others research this problem, people have come up with a more reasonable solution to the situation such as; rehabilitation programs. Close-in-age dating relationships have been the topic of discussion due to the argument; “should there be a law for these situations?” Given that many teenagers who are close in age are probably having sexual behavior violates statutory rape laws. This shows that close-in-age dating relationships are more acceptable in society and is not frowned upon. Due to statutory rape laws with a parent’s consent, close-in-age dating relationships are not accused to be inappropriate in the situation of statutory rape. Underage girls who experience sex with older males are going to or have already experienced a negative outcome such as, problems in the future also, many struggles throughout time with their past experiences. With that being said, without the consent of neither mother nor father, the law can be enforced throughout the matter of endangerment of a child (Kempner). As a teen approaches his or her way into the sexual behavior stage, many are ready before others; there is no exact age for all kids.. The nation’s way of dealing with an amazingly serious problem has been to enforce laws stating certain ages shall not and should not be Shenk 4 involved in sexual relationships with each other. Not only have statistics shown that many pregnancies and STD-related occurrences have been known to be traced back to statutory rape and minors having sex without taking cautioning measures but, many of these situations have been leading back to non-consensual sex or parent approval. In 2000, nine million cases of STD’s were reported among people in the age range of fifteen to twenty four (Buckley). Although many pregnancies have occurred due to statutory rape, many of these women getting pregnant are usually minors. Minors who give consent to sex with an older male can lead to a pregnancy if unsafely handled: One pregnant girl was sentenced to 30 days for a misdemeanor and she was quite shocked by the severity of the sentence. The prosecutor pointed out that the community had every right to be shocked at the prospect of a child being born out of wedlock, which increases by a very high percentage the probability that that child will end up in prison, on welfare, illiterate and on drugs. (Buckley) Abortions are also a serious issue due to these types of relationships. As studies have shown many abortions have been due to statutory rape and as well as rape (Sylvester). To society, anything with the word ”rape” involved is considered a crime; because of this, men should demand to see women’s ID before engaging in sexual activity to avoid any misunderstandings. “It is little wonder that rape is one of the least-reported crimes. Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.” Many states feel the need to enforce laws against teen sex; taking these actions into consideration and completing a successful demand of males asking for her approval is not only discriminating towards teens all over the nation but showing teens that human nature is “wrong” Shenk 5 by having consensual sex. This can further criminalize sex in America rather than teaching responsibility. This could also lead to secrecy and immoral behaviors in teens. Teen sex is and always will be considered “wrong” to most adults but to teen’s sex should not be considered a crime, especially when there is no harm being done. Statutory rape laws are often overkill and prosecute wrongly. Yes, all adults have their own opinions on teenage sex, but they never stop to think about the teens opinions. Teens have a state of mind as well; yes, they may make bad decisions from time to time but that’s how every single person has learned, from their mistakes. Statutory rape is huge but sometime people need to step back and think whose fault is it and whose cause the real problem. Not all males should be the center of attention when it comes to accusing someone for statutory rape; most cases involve a female who’s usually the minor in the process, which takes a terrible outlook on the older male. Yes the male may be older but it doesn’t always mean he was in the wrong completely. Females have just as much power as males do when it come to speaking their mind and saying yes to giving consent. Consent is not only for one person in the situation but for everyone. Statutory rape laws are main criminalizing males due to the belief of the male race being the problem in all situations involving rape. In reality many statutory rape situations need to not be looked over an assumed. Criminalizing males has been the reasons for many statutory rape cases. “There is something wrong with a law that forces a judge to brand a young man as a rapist ... for the rest of his life simply for having sex with someone before her 16th birthday” (Kempner). Shenk 6 Works Cited Buckley, William F. “Society Should Enforce Laws against Teen Sex.” Teenage Sexuality. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Enforce the Law in Idaho.” Washington Times 12 July 1996. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. Kempner, Martha. “Age of Consent Laws Are Confusing.” Age of Consent. Ed. Christine Watkins. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Rpt. from “Legislating Teen Sex: What’s (Terribly) Wrong with Our Age of Consent Laws.” 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. Kempner, Martha. “Consensual Sex Among Teens Should Not Be Criminalized.” Teen Dating. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Legislating Teen Sex: What’s (Terribly) Wrong with Our Age of Consent Laws.” http://rhrealitycheck.org. 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. Smith, Brittany Logino, and Glen A. Kercher. “Provisions for Juvenile Offenders Are Important in Age of Consent Laws.” Age of Consent. Ed. Christine Watkins. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Rpt. from “Adolescent Sexual Behavior and the Law.” 2011. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. Sylvester, Kathleen, and Jonathan O’Connell. “Statutory Rape Laws Should Be Enforced.” Teenage Sexuality. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Protect Young Girls.” Baltimore Sun 17 June 2003:13A. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.