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.
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.