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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?While some law enforcement officials thought this was the right approach, many advocates for adolescent health were skeptical at best.The deputy district attorney in California’s Tulare County told the L. Times: “When we prosecute a few of these guys, we think it’ll make a lot of guys think twice.” By contrast, law professor Michelle Oberman felt these laws would never act as a deterrent: “Drawing a connection between enforcing these laws and lowering adolescent pregnancy rates flies in the face of everything we know about why girls get pregnant and why they choose to continue their pregnancies.Age of consent laws, therefore, made it easier to prosecute a man who sexually assaulted an underage girl.
Still, all I could think about was that what started out as a somewhat typical high school relationship (a senior boy with a freshman or sophomore girlfriend is not at all that unusual) essentially ruined these young men’s lives.
Is there a way to protect teens from exploitation without making them vulnerable to unnecessary prosecution?
And what does all of this say about how society handles teen sex?
So, though I saw it as a normal and mostly positive sexual experience, had authorities been notified of it for whatever reason, they would have declared it a crime.
This realization had my head swimming with questions.