Why not lower age of consent to 14?

(107 Posts)
CustardSliceAndAMugOfCoffee Fri 11-Jan-13 12:20:56

Becoming sexually active - why not lower the age of consent to 14?
This was one of the topics for discussion on The Wright Stuff on channel 5 this morning. What are your opinions? I personally think the age of consent should remain 16 years of age.

That is good to see Trekkie - some flexibility in the law !
Where it says "it is not in the public interest to prosecute" ...
you'd hope they mean it is not in the young people's interest either - or in the interest of their well-being

Trekkie Fri 18-Jan-13 17:22:30

Oh I say "the UK" but thinking about it I think Scotland have their own laws and NI is probably different too.

The above is correct for England & Wales though so hopefully helpful in clarifying some of the points raised on the thread.

Trekkie Fri 18-Jan-13 17:20:06

Current law in the UK is here

From that source, CPS guidance says this:

"In addition, it is not in the public interest to prosecute children who are of the same or similar age and understanding that engage in sexual activity, where the activity is truly consensual for both parties and there are no aggravating features, such as coercion or corruption. In such cases, protection will normally be best achieved by providing education for the children and young people and providing them and their families with access to advisory and counselling services. This is the intention of Parliament."

There is no such thing as "statutory rape" in the UK - that is not a term used anywhere.
A child under 13 cannot in law consent to sexual acts. So any sexual act with a child under 13 is by definition an offence, and there is not supposed to be a defence of "they looked older" although in practice this seems to happen confused.

For children 13-15 the law is designed to protect against coercion, predators etc. It is not there to prosecute children of a similar age in a consensual sexual relationship - that is written in black and white.

Personally I am happy with age of consent being set at 16.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 17-Jan-13 23:42:35

I think 16 is Ok, as long as it's interpreted as a guideline rather than an absolute. People can be naive, gullible and vulnerable to predators at any age, depending on their circumstances and history. People can also be emotionally resillient, physically mature and thoroughly competent at a younger age than their parents would believe. But if you start by teaching children that sex is enjoyable and it you're doing it but not enjoying it then there's something wrong, that would be good as well.

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 00:14:11

Age of consent should be 18! To suggest 14 is ludricous.

HopAndSkip Tue 15-Jan-13 17:29:30

Personally I think it should be 18.

Xenia Sun 13-Jan-13 16:59:33

I think 14 is acceptable (particularly with the caveat that your partner is no more than 2 years older). 14 is the age in Italy i think (and indeed in the Roman Catholic religion which says 14 or the age of consent in the country where you are based if higher).

In Saudi there is none and that is unwise and ought to be changed.

AbigailAdams Sun 13-Jan-13 16:45:32

I disagree that legislation can't change attitudes. The age of consent has already changed a lot of attitudes towards young children and their rights. Drink driving laws demonized that act. Laws can change attitudes. It is the state saying this is not acceptable in our society (providing they actually enforce those laws. Rape laws are having no effect. FGM laws have no effect because they aren't actually applied)

JustAHolyFool Sun 13-Jan-13 16:33:47

It doesn't really matter. The age of consent is 13 in Spain. 40% of girls report they're sexual active at 15 in England, compared to 13% in Spain. We'd be far better off actually talking to children about their sexual choices (and about drinking so much they don't know what they're doing, which sure as hell accounted for a lot of my early sexual experiences.)

If it was lowered it would have to be with those constraints Xenia.
Without the 2 year age range rule the proposals would be quite different and totally unacceptable IME.
Am glad to hear the proposals do include them.

Xenia Sun 13-Jan-13 16:24:03

I am in favour. As it currently, stands 40% of children are criminalised by the 16+ age. The proposal is just that it's lawful with someone up to two years older than you are. I doubt it will happen however.

It is part of a Government proposal to increase our rights and freedoms something we very very much need so if people have ideas of abolition of a lot of other laws Labour brought in which curb rights and freedoms now is the time to campaign for them (not something most mumsnetters are remotely bothered about as they seem to want rights hugely curtailed whenever it's debated ).

No way should it be lowered to 14. Of course you can't stop teens from experimenting, and some will still have consensual sex at 14. Not ideal, but that's not my main concern.

My concern is that lowering the age to 14 will make it easier for sexual predators to get away with abusing children. Because then they will no longer to breaking the law when they persuade children to have sex with them; children who desperately want to feel grown-up and are flattered by the attention of an older man.

I would also agree that teens should be taught way more about alternatives to PIV, and how it can bring greater pleasure to both partners plus removed the worry of pregnancy. PIV is far too much of a big deal. Though last time I expressed this viewpoint, I was told that PIV is considered boring these days and teens are into anal and other stuff they learn from porn instead. Lovely.

Trills Sun 13-Jan-13 15:27:46

What needs to change is not laws but attitudes.

You can't legislate a change in culture.

grimbletart Sun 13-Jan-13 13:39:47

Just because a girl has boobs and uses tampons doesn't make her an adult. We (rightly) complain about the pressure early sexualisation puts on young girls and now there is a suggestion to change the law to make it even easier for early sexualisation.

Is society mad?

Portofino Sat 12-Jan-13 21:15:21

Hmm. This is an interesting one. My parents were 16 and 18 when I was conceived. It was not ideal, but they were considered to be adults and got married etc. My mum was just turned 17 when I was born. I first dtd aged 15 and knew all about contraception etc. I felt that I was old enough and switched on enough. I don't look back at it with any regret.

The idea of my pfb having sex at 15 or becoming a mother at 17 totally freaks me out though. I will be having some long chats with her in the coming years.

Must be slightly weird going through college in a culture where students aren't meant to be drinking Piccadilly ? How does that pan out ?!

Why is 15 never mentioned as an idea ?
Though I'd like to see a Romeo & Juliet style law introduced if the age limit was lowered at all.
I do see the argument for not making teenagers lawbreakers when apparently 40% have sex under the current guidelines/ legal age. Is that right ?
I know young people (in our extended family) who have and seem to have come through the experience OK, but hope my DC's will wait a bit longer as it seems a lot for them to handle to me.

PiccadillyCervix Sat 12-Jan-13 20:53:54

Raise it to 18. And raise the drinking age to 21 too

Why confused

Go ahead and die for your country or become responsible for another human being or run for fucking office, but don't you dare have a beer hmm

I'm American we all know it's a ridiculous (totally arbitrary date in your life) and patronizing law over here can't imagine why it should be expanded to other countries.

44SoStartingOver Sat 12-Jan-13 20:38:37

My dd is 13 1/2 and is averagely intelligent and mature. She is fairly thoughtful and reasonably sensible.

There is no way she will be ready in six months to actively decide to have consensual sex with all the possible ramifications.

I know she flirts a bit, but I don't think she has had her first proper kiss, so if she is fairly typical, I cannot see how most 14 yos would be either.

Anecdotal I know, but in an age when people seem to be 30plus before they are independent how could they make a smart decision at 14?

Viviennemary Sat 12-Jan-13 20:29:24

I have already said I think the age should be raised to 18. There is absolutely nothing at all done about under age sex. Sex under the age of 16 is illegal or it isn't. What's the point of it being illegal if nothing is ever done about it. I think lowering it to 14 would be a total disaster. You'd have 12 year olds thinking I am as mature as a 14 year old so it's OK for me. It isn't OK.

TheSecretCervixDNCOP Sat 12-Jan-13 20:12:42

What exactly is the punishment anyway, when two young people have sex below legal age, what happens to them? Highly doubt they will sling them in a jail cell?

TeiTetua Sat 12-Jan-13 18:52:13

And having raised the age of consent to 18, would you be willing to prosecute (let's say) 60% of young people? There's a lot of difference between saying people shouldn't have sex before such and such an age, versus trying to run a legal system which calls it a crime and has to deal with the result in practical terms. No, they shouldn't have sex (maybe). But they do, and most likely they'll continue to, whatever the law says. So what's the answer?

OneHandFlapping Sat 12-Jan-13 13:48:32

Nobody should be having sex until they are mature enough to deal with:

Unwanted pregnancy
STDs
Sexual coercion
Heartbreak

Just because you are old enough to experience sexual desire doesn't mean you should be having sex. You don't die from celibacy and sex is potentially something with life changing consequences.

I would raise the age of consent to 18 myself.

TheSecretCervixDNCOP Sat 12-Jan-13 13:42:02

I don't think it matters what the age of consent were changed to if at all, if someone underage is going to have sex they are going to do it aren't they. Same with smoking and drinking, if they get hold of the appropriate items they're going to use them. Not much in place to stop them?

There does seem to be a better culture including for young people in some other European countries, such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia ?

(They are very good on early years ed which I'm involved in too. A coincidence ?
Or important social skills such as respect learnt at an early age ? Or just countries that have many of their priorities right ?)

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