Embracing teenage sexuality: Let's rethink the age of consent

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Great Britain, after considerable national debate, chose 16 at its magic number in 2003, although a minority of liberal Britons, led by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, continue to push for a cut-off at 14 years. In 2008, Canada has also settled upon 16. French law sets the age of majority, in matters of romance, at 15. Our other closest cultural and moral allies fall into a similar range: Belgium (16), Denmark (15), Germany (14-16), Greece (15), Holland (16), Italy (14), Norway (16) and Sweden (15). The outliers are even lower, not higher, such as Spain's threshold of 13.

What these nations have accepted, and many in this country still refuse to acknowledge, is that teenagers do have sex - lots of it - and that criminal law is neither an effective or an ethical means of deterring their sexual desires. (The average age of first sexual intercourse remains well below 18 in the United States, including in those states with an 18-year-old age floor, suggesting that a majority of teens violate these laws with impunity.) [...]

For far too long, those progressive voices who would bring common sense to the issues of teenage sexuality have been afraid to speak out for fear of being branded sympathetic to pedophiles and sex predators. The reality is that a reasonably lower age of consent, and a frank national discussion of adolescent sexuality, would serve the interests of the very minors that current laws are supposedly trying to protect.

source: Article 'Embracing Teenage Sexuality: Let's Rethink the Age of Consent' by Jacob M. Appel (Bioethicist and medical historian); www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-m-appel/embracing-teenage-sexuali_b_409136.html; The Huffington Post; 1 January 2010