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The Criminalization of Teen Sex

Derek “The Fallen One” Logue
August 29, 2008, Update March 18, 2010

In Iowa, a sixteen-year-old boy meets another teen and they date and have sex; turns out the girl was only 13, and the teen finds himself on a sex offender registry [*1].

In Oregon, two thirteen year old boys faced 10 years and life on the sex offender registry for participating in “slap butt day,” a common form of horseplay at the school; the district had prosecuted other children for sexual harassment in similar cases [*2].

In Florida, two teens were convicted of child porn for taking racy pictures of themselves [*3].

The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled on a case in which a 13 year old girl was charged as both victim of a sex crime and a perpetrator for having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend [*4].

These cases are merely the tip of the ice burg in a society obsessed with punishing sex offenders. The criminalization of teenage sexual behavior has become a disturbing trend in our predator panicked society. We are simultaneously obsessed with sex and horrified by sex; our laws reflect this panic. For example, we allow 12-year-olds to obtain birth control and abortions, but they cannot consent to sex [*5].

Criminalizing teen sex is part of the “look tough on crime” stance which is popular in today’s society, yet few people are educating the public about the real possibility of teens landing on sex offender registries for irresponsible sexual behavior [*6].

Legislators in Georgia failed to pass a bill mandating schools teach the legal consequences of teen sex, though it later passed a “watered-down” version of the bill [*7].

This mentality has led to disastrous consequences, destroying the lives of many teenagers by placing them on sex offender registries for life! The possibility of teens landing on the registry is very real, as teens are having sex without knowledge of the consequences. 

The Center for Disease Control found in one biannual survey of ninth to twelfth graders that 

45.3% of teen girls and 
48% of teen boys have had sex. 


4.2% of females and 
10.4% of males had 

sex before age 13, and 

11.2% of females and 
17.5% of males 

had four or more sex partners [*8].

A 2002 National Survey of Family Growth found that of the teens age 15 to 19 who have never had sexual intercourse, 

24% of males and 
22% of females engaged in oral sex [*9].

In short, more than half of teens have experienced sexual contact of some kind. This does not even include actions such as taking naughty photos, butt slapping, or even some innocent actions misinterpreted as sexually motivated conduct.

If you think your child is immune, think again. Children as young as pre-school students have faced severe penalties for “inappropriate sexual behaviors.” 

The Virginia Department of Education reported in 2007, 255 elementary students were suspended for offensive sexual touching; 
the Maryland Department of Education reported 166 elementary students were suspended for sexual harassment. 

These suspensions add a permanent mark on the child’s school records [*10].

The AP recently noted from 1993 to 2004,

 adult sex crimes decreased by 56% but 
juvenile crimes increased 40% by the same period [*11].

However, what percentage of these cases involves forcible rape or child molestation as opposed to consensual sexual activity with peers?

In our quest to prevent sexual violence, we are willing to place marks of infamy on children as young as four in the name of public safety, proclaiming the ironic mantra, 

“If it saves just one child, then the law is worth it.” 

Tell me, are we willing to destroy the lives of many children to save “just one child?”

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[*1] www.rickyslife.com > Not reachable [Back] 

[*2] Susan Goldsmith. “Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?” The Oregonian, July 2, 2007. [Back] 

[*3] Declan McCullagh.  “Police blotter: Teens prosecuted for racy photos.”  - [Back] 

[*4] Pamela Mason. “Girl, 13, charged as sex offender and victim.” Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 26, 2006 - [Back] 

[*5] Niki Delson. “Age of Consent – Criminalizing Teen Sex.” American Chronicle, May 31, 2007. [Back] 

[*6] Shannon McCaffrey. “Many teens don’t know the law about sex.” USA Today, Oct. 29, 2007. [Back] 

[*7] Shannon McCaffrey. “Critics say teens need education on sex laws.” Savannah Morning News, Aug. 18, 2007 -[Back] 

[*8] Center for Disease Control. “Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System.” 2003, -[Back] 

[*9] “Oral sex.” Child Trends Data Bank, 2003 -[Back] 

[*10] Brigid Schuldte. “For Little Children, Grown-up Labels as Sexual Harassers.” Washington Post, April 3, 2008. [Back] 

[*11] John “Jack” Tefler. “Obsession With Sex, Violence Impacting Our Kids.” Midland Daily News, July 1, 2007 [Back]

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