You’re Not Too Young to be a Sex Offender

by zachary.torain on March 19, 2014 - 11:33pm

          An existing issue in this country is the matter of sexual consent. The article Romeo & Juliet: Star-Crossed Lovers or Sex Offenders? addresses the matter of age. In Wisconsin and California, the age of sexual consent is eighteen years of age. Unlike the majority of other states, this is two years above their ages of consent. This has created for teenagers, issues in these respective states. Their laws have gone to the extreme of making seventeen-year-olds register as sex offenders because they had consensual sexual relations with one another. In Wisconsin and California, the surveys show that the majority of residents do not believe two same-aged teens under the age of consent involved in sexual relations should be charged with statutory rape.

          I believe that both the California and Wisconsin governments are taking the issue of age of consent to the extreme. In California, 17-year-old Delia Lopez, 22-year-old Juan Jiminez and their baby son found themselves in court after a doctor reported them to authorities for statutory rape, even though they are married (Rendon, 1997). If this were possible, why even allow the couple to be married in the first place? Their government is just contradicting itself. Also, these laws were created to lower teen pregnancy rates and protect children from adult sex offenders. Instead, the law is giving teenagers criminal history even if they are charged with a misdemeanor.

In both states the majority (WI 85.8% and CA 88.1%) of respondents indicated that they do not believe that criminalizing sexual behavior between consenting teens can reduce sexual interaction between teens; nor can such laws reduce teen pregnancy (WI 79.5% and CA 81.4%); nor is it appropriate to use such laws to reduce teen pregnancy (WI 85.3% and CA 81.5%). (p. 664)

The residents of these states agree that the intentions of this law are having no effect on the issues they were to address. As stated in the article, these laws affect teenagers in a negative way and can impede them from having successful futures. So somehow, the California and Wisconsin governments should alter this law to keep teenagers out of the legal system and actually put away sexual predators.

 

References

Beck, V., & Boys, S. (2013). Romeo & Juliet: Star-Crossed Lovers or Sex Offenders? Criminal Justice Policy Review, 24(6), 655-675. doi:10.1177/0887403412458795.

Comments

The age of consent for sexual interaction is a huge controversial topic. Many children are forced to register as sex offenders even though the sex may be consensual. What really stuck out to me in your article is how Juan Jiminez and his wife Delia Lopez are in court because a doctor reported them for statutory rape. I agree with your statement that if they are allowed to get married with Delia only being 17, then how can Juan be charged with statutory rape. The government has good intentions about trying to cut down on teen pregnancy but the path they are taking to do so is ruining the futures of many individuals. If two teens have consensual sexual interaction, they should not be forced to register as sex offenders because no rape was involved. Also, if two people are legally married and one individual is under the age of consent, they should be able to have consensual sexual relations with one another without any thought of being charged with statutory rape. I know of a man who as a teen had consensual sexual relations with another teen and he was still charged with statutory rape and had to register as a sex offender. Being charged and having to register has ruined this man’s life because he is now looked at as a sexual predator when really he did nothing wrong. Based off of this man’s experience, I agree that the government should find a way to alter the law so that the real sexual predators are locked away and the lives of non-predators are not ruined.

I too agree with you that the law is made to do well but however is doing much more wrong than right. Imposing laws that diminishes the freedom of an individual is wrong and must be stopped for it creates the fake impression of safety and causes lifelong repercussion. In this case, the fact that all the sexual actions made under the age of 18 are seen as sexual assault the laws prevents the exposure to something that is an uncontrollably natural instinct. There is also health repercussion because it adds stress and unnecessary pressure to the youth of these states leading to heart problems, accelerated aging, also on the long run it may lead to Alzheimer's disease, and much more. We must not forget the intentions of the law but also consider all its impact in the youth’s life.

I agree with the article in that the age of consent does not have much effect on preventing teen pregnancy or reduce sexual interactions among teenagers. I personally believe that a persons sexual experiences and choices are due to their upbringing and how they are taught at home and in school about safe sex and pregnancy. I also believe that the age of consent is important when it comes to statutory rape when it involves a large age gap. I believe that the case involving Delia Lopez and Juan Jiminez is a perfect example of how the age of consent is taken out of context. Filing statutory rape against a married couple is, in my opinion, a waste of time. I don’t believe it is statutory rape if Delia willingly married Juan. I believe that statutory rape should only be pursued if one of the participants in that relationship says it was rape and not consensual or if the age gap is larger than a certain amount of years (the number to be determined by the court). Filing for statutory rape when it was in fact not rape is unfair to both participants of the relationship if they both agree that the sexual acts were consensual. I believe that if the age gap is not that far from 17 (or the age of consent in that state) and both participants want the relationship, they should be left alone!

What a well thought out argument! I felt the need to comment on this piece because of how messed up I believe the law system has become in trying to “protect” the lives of people. Rape is a serious crime and I would never downplay just how harmful it is to society and the victims, but when it comes to statutory rape there needs to be a better line drawn on the limits. As in the article to which you referred, charging two young adults with statutory rape will in no way protect them! These kids will now have problems the rest of their lives finding jobs and even being restricted to where they can live. They will be threatened constantly by people who judge a situation they know little about and who write people off as “bad people” based on their past, or what they believe is someone’s past. This judgment on these kids that were put in an unfortunate circumstance makes me think of one important question: in rape aren't one person and offender and one a victim? In this instance it would seem that you have two “rapists” and no victim, and crimes cannot be persecuted without a victim. I find this very interesting. I grew up believing that love is love and you do not choose who you love, but also that morals are very important. If someone older was dating a younger person, say 27 dating a 16 year old, I would clearly see the problem, but to deny two 17 year-olds the right to their relationship and privacy is beyond sanity to me. There is no reason that two lives should be ruined over a law that is clearly in the wrong on this situation.

I would like to find out what the educational background was of the people who had their hands and uneducated minds involved with making this law. Sex is natural. Humans are sexual beings end of story. Do there need to be laws in place to protect young adults from heinous sexual crimes? Yes! But, by using law as a scare tactic to reduce teen pregnancy, you’re only outcome will be teens and who grow to be adults with negative and damaging outlooks on sex. On top of that a criminal record that could destroys someone’s future. In my Human Sexuality class here at Brockport we talked about the importance of sex education and the importance of sex being a topic that should be able to be spoken about freely, but appropriately. In addition to that we learned that people with negative views of sex as young adults and teens continue that pattern through their adulthood. If consent is given (without the influence of any form of drug or force) and there is an appropriate age between the two, there should be no problem, nor should the government being getting involved. Education is key in the prevention of teen pregnancy. Not criminal records and jail time.

All in all a great write up on the article! It’s a very interesting and sticky topic that has a lot of different avenues in which it can manifest.
Nicely done!

This was a great article to write about, and I find the topic very interesting. My town has a very high teen pregnancy rate, so I find it interesting that these states think that strict laws on sexul consent will lower pregnancy rates. I also find this article interesting because I am in a relationship with a two and a half year age gap. If laws were as strict in New York as they were in these states we would have been reported awhile ago. Teenagers are going to have sex, regardless of laws. If the laws are strict, they will just do it more secretly, but it will never stop them. I agree with your opinion. I think these states went way overboard with these consent laws. If you are the same age, regardless if you are under the age of consent, it shouldn’t matter. Many teenagers that are in relationships that have an age gap meet in high school, where it is normal to date people that aren’t necessarily in your grade. These teenagers shouldn’t be punished for that, let alone be registered as sex offenders for a high school relationship.

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