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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.

DSM Fri 11-Jan-13 14:42:00

What do you mean mitchy when all else is equal?

And I don't really get the humour in vasectomising teenage boys.. hmm

Mitchy1nge Fri 11-Jan-13 14:49:16

It's not humour, I think it would be great if we had a chemical vasectomisation program for young men. Reversible when they are ready to become parents. Maybe it would lead to a surge of disease though if they went condomless as a result.

When all else is equal, I mean when all else is equal! When women aren't the 'sex class', that kind of thing?

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 14:49:19

I meant legally, they couldn't just go and rent a house could they or even obtain a jo. Also with funding being dropped left right and center there would be no guarantees of special housing provided for them so they would end up vulnerabel if they couldn't stay at home.

AnAirOfHope Fri 11-Jan-13 14:50:58

If it was lowered and children of 14 could have sex would children younger be talking about it or more likely to try sex?

Would you be happy for you 14 yo to have sex in your house with their 12yo g/bf?

If you lower the concent age what about the concent for same sex?

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 14:51:54

*obtain a job

AnAirOfHope Fri 11-Jan-13 14:52:55

14yo is not an adult they could not support a child on their own.

I think it should be raised to 18yo.

DSM Fri 11-Jan-13 14:54:33

Mitchy I can't even begin to respond to 'I think it would be great if we had a chemical vasectomisation program for young men. Reversible when they are ready to become parents'.

Utterly disturbing POV. Are we living in a dictatorship now? Who assesses when one is 'ready' to become a parent?

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 11-Jan-13 15:00:20

Where is all this stuff about the ability to raise a child coming from? Seriously? A lot of adults don't have the resources or maturity to raise a child and a great many teenagers may have the potential to make great parents. Sex, whether we like it or not, is not solely about procreation, it's much more often about recreation for all who engage in it. I can agree with raising the age of consent to 18, with the proviso that those between (say) 14 and 17 would legally be allowed to have sex within a two year age difference. Making it illegal for an 18 year old to have sex with a 17 year old is crazy!

I know I'm repeating myself but building up young people's self esteem and educating them on building positive relationships should be the focus. Children don't magically become adults at any age, childhood is essentially a social construction with some common attributes. We have to protect the vulnerable but accept that mid-teens are people with their own drives and criminalising their behaviour has no benefits that I can see. (I would absolutely never recommend lowering the age of consent without the age difference proviso though).

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 15:06:06

I don't think it's being ageist to say that becoming a parent at 14 would ruin most children's lives and that as our society is not set up for them to live independently or work or even work for a reasonable minimum wage (why does the UK still have a staggered age dependent minimum wage).

I also belive that with very young children who do have sex procreation very much does come in to it. It's a fact that children with lower self esteem will engage in riskier sex at a younger age. The idea that a child with no family support system will feel the urge to create family of their own is not a crazy one is it?

This will only serve to put the child in a cycle of vulnerability they can't get out of. Once a baby is born there is no undoing it,

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 15:07:33

Society can not tell an adult who can not afford to have a child not to have one but surely it is society's job to act in the best interest of young people and say no, you can't do that?

Mitchy1nge Fri 11-Jan-13 15:13:04

DSM - did I say an enforced program or that men couldn't or shouldn't decide for themselves when they are ready to inseminate someone?

As a sixteen year old who was out of control and had sexual relations with both a twenty four year old man and a thirty year old man, I am all for raising the age to eighteen.

Narked Fri 11-Jan-13 15:16:16

I'd be happy to say that 14 year olds sleeping with 14 year olds won't be charged - this is already the case in practice. I would like a change in the law so that anyone over 18 sleeping with someone under 16 was automatically charged.

Trills Fri 11-Jan-13 15:16:44

Some people will be ready and able to consent at 14. Some won't.

Picking a number is a compromise that says "most people will be capable of fully consenting in an informed manner by this age".

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 11-Jan-13 15:17:10

I think acting in the best interests of young people is not necessarily about laying down the law but taking them seriously as human beings with rights to make decisions about their own lives. There does need to be law in place protecting the vulnerable, but I don't think the current way of legislating (or indeed a simple raising of the age to 18) is the best way to achieve that. Making sex taboo for teenagers creates a barrier between them and the adults around them where they are less willing to be open and, IMO, more likely to make poor decisions. The reasons for starting to have sex (consensually - obviously not talking about any abusive situations) are complex but IME and that of my friends had nothing to do with the age of consent.

My DS is only 5 so I'm not going to hit this for a few years yet, and am prepared to eat humble pie when he's 14 and suddenly it seems very young indeed. Regardless, the authoritarian approach is, to me, less likely to work than an open and supportive atmosphere where the development of a sex drive is seen as natural and people respect themselves and have better self-esteem, with the hope that as a consequence their decisions around their bodies would be better.

Trills Fri 11-Jan-13 15:18:50

I do think that the ages at which you can legally do stuff in the UK do not at all look as if they have been thought about in a coherent manner.

Probably because they haven't.

I wouldn't agree with putting up the age of consent.

In Germany you can buy beer and wine at 16 but have to be 18 to buy spirits.

Trills Fri 11-Jan-13 15:21:55

When it comes to making your own medical decisions we have the concept of Gillick competence where an under-16 can be deemed to have sufficient understanding to consent to their own medical treatment.

I would hope that the law (as it stands) uses a similar approach when dealing with 14 and 15 year olds having sex. Some are competent to consent. Some are not.

Locketjuice Fri 11-Jan-13 15:23:05

I really don't understand what benefit there would be to lowering the age? I'm young, I am a mum.. And was a teenage parent.. Not 14 mind! So I don't see the teenage parent arguement being a very fair one as it doesn't really matter if your 14,16 or 37 when it comes to parenting.. I do think that it is a stupid idea to lower the age limit none the less.. If my 13 year old neice came home to tell me she was having sex I would be mortified she's still a baby in my eyes... Just seems very wrong.
All I think it would achieve would be the dirty 20/30 something's thinking its ok to be with 16 year old would then think its ok to have a go with a 14 year old. Very very wrong.

KRITIQ Fri 11-Jan-13 15:37:41

I think it should stay at 16 but not result in automatic criminalisation of those under 16 who engage in sex. There needs to be consideration of the context and the emotional and social maturity of those involved. Perhaps that could also be the case for those just over 16 who have sex with those under 16 (i.e. they could only be a few months in age apart,) but that also would have to be weighed up on the context.

It's important to recognise the rights of the young person as well as the need to safeguard their well being when they may not be in a position to give full, informed consent for sex (and where they might believe that they actually CAN do that.)

I think lowering the age to 14 as a general rule would not be wise. As others have said, this would legitimise sexual contact between much older people and young people, many of whom are not physically mature, nor close to being emotionally or socially mature enough to fully understand the consequences of sexual relationships. Another worry is that if the age of consent drops by 2 years, that also indirectly sends the message that the "grey area" where sex isn't legal, but isn't "that bad" which we have in our culture will also drop. Now, it's notionally about 14, maybe 13. It could become 11 or 12.

What bugs me about these debates is when someone brings up the issue of physical development. Yes, girls and boys are developing secondary sexual characteristics at a younger age than they did say 100 years ago. But, just because a girl starts periods at age 9 doesn't mean she has the emotional or social maturity or the ability to understand the complexities of sexual relationships and possible consequences of this that an adult person would. Even very young children have some version of sexual feelings, have a awareness of themselves as sexual beings, but that's not the same as being capable of giving consent to have sex, particularly with an adult who has the capacity to manipulate and control the situation, thereby exploiting the child or young person for their own purposes.

Another thing that worries me about some of these discussions is the number of adults who insist that their experiences of under age sex, including sex with much older people, was a "good" thing. I don't doubt that there are some for whom this was genuinely the case. However, evidence shows there are a great many more who have been seriously harmed by childhood sexual abuse (for that is what it is,) and it has blighted the remainder of their lives. I also sense there are some who "cope" with having been sexually abused by convincing themselves that it wasn't that bad, that they were active and willing participants in sex, because this means they don't have to see themselves as victims, as controlled, as exploited. I sometimes wonder if this kind of thinking may be behind the words of some adults who maintain that having sex when a child "did them no harm." sad

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 16:04:25

I sometimes wonder if this kind of thinking may be behind the words of some adults who maintain that having sex when a child "did them no harm.

I agree and this may one of the few times where I have seen men be the most vulnerable. The idea that having sex with an older teenager or a woman is seen as something young boys should aspire to is quite frightening really,and while most people would assume that a 14 year old girl who had sex with an older man had been abused it isn't always felt that way for boys. Even grown men will say they would have "loved it" when a pretty young teachers gets caught shagging a student. It's disgusting.

One other worry for me for changing the age of consent is that currently abusers have been let off with lighter sentences because they have said they "couldn't tell" that the person was underage.

Think about that, an 11 year old who could pass for 14 in a judge's eyes is suddenly a possibility for a pedophile.

Trills Fri 11-Jan-13 16:08:21

An 11 year old who could pass for 14 would not be attractive to a paedophile, that's not what it means.

Trills Fri 11-Jan-13 16:09:54

I'll agree that if the age of consent were lowered people who wanted to have sex with young/vulnerable/emotionally immature people would think it would be easier to get away with "but he/she looked old enough".

TiggyD Fri 11-Jan-13 16:36:18

I'd support a lower age of consent with the proviso that the lowered age is only allowed between people of less than 2 years age difference, as is the case in some countries. I'd lower it to 15 and see what happens.

"I think it would be great if we had a chemical vasectomisation program for young men. Reversible when they are ready to become parents."

"Who assesses when one is 'ready' to become a parent?"

I've thought of a good test. The man who wants to de-vasectomised has to travel to a city at least 200 miles away and sign his name on a form. That's all. Only the stupid or feckless could fail to do it, and they're 2 types who shouldn't be allowed to breed.

RiaOverTheRainbow Fri 11-Jan-13 16:38:32

A bit of a tangent but as Mitchy mentioned reversible vasectomies, it's worth noting that exactly that is being developed now in India.

PiccadillyCervix Fri 11-Jan-13 16:51:13

An 11 year old who could pass for 14 would not be attractive to a paedophile, that's not what it means.

I realize but I am not sure of the word for a man who would like to fuck 11 year olds but is able to convince a judge she could pass for 14. What is the word for that? I am fairly sure in most cases where the "she looked old enough defense" was used the criminal did not really believe she was 16. But the case could be made (and has been made) to a sleaze bag judge.

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