Why isn't a 14 year old girl old enough to consent to sex?

After all, we think a 14 year old should be in control of her body enough to decide on her own to have an abortion, so why isn't she old enough to consent to sex?

I'm thinking about this because of a case that's in the news today:

Kaitlyn Hunt, or “Kate,” has just refused a plea deal in a case that has focused the nation on discriminatory prosecutions and ways in which LGBT people are treated differently by some prosecutors. Kate Hunt, a high school senior who began a consensual relationship with a classmate three years her junior, when she was 17, was arrested when she turned 18 after her girlfriend’s parents demanded her arrest and expulsion from school.

The Florida prosecutor, Brian Workman, offered her a deal vastly different from those generally offered to teens in her situation engaged in opposite-sex consensual relationships. Instead of offering her a misdemeanor charge Hunt is being charged with two felonies. Her plea deal would include her being forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, no possibility of her case being overturned or records sealed, and forced to serve two years’ house arrest.

“Hunt will appear in court June 20, and could face 15 years in prison if convicted... (source)

I'm curious what your thoughts are on the question in the subject line as well as on this case.

Tags: Hunt, Kaitlyn, rape, sex, statutory, underage

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By the standards suggested by that link humans shouldn't be making decisions at all until they are 25 years old!

But the development of basic personal boundaries and values is finished long before that age - this is the basis of consent, not an understanding of future consequence. No human being can accurately project consequences. They might be able to do it better as they age but it is never perfected.  "But they might not be able to live with the consequences". The vast majority of human beings that survive into adulthood seem to be pretty adept at this; given that the world population is in the many billions and growing it's a pretty sure bet that a great number of us manage to do that. Will 14-year olds get into abusive relationships? Yep. Will adults 25 years old and older get into abusive relationships? Definitely. Prevention is difficult or impossible but recovery is not - give people a clear path of escape and the encouragement to do so and you have a better solution. Additionally support them afterwards. Otherwise? Leave them alone to make their own lives and relationships. The fact that you want to protect them is an admirable human trait but you have to respect their ability to choose or you are just trading one form of abuse for another.

I think, Richard, that it may be safe to say that most people don't recognize a mistake until after they've made it.

I agree completely. Having sex exposes her to the hazard of pregnancy (and STDs), when she is much too young to assume the burden, risk, and responsibility of bearing a child.  But having an abortion returns her to a condition similar to her pre-sex status.  Instead of plunging her into great, unfamiliar responsibilities, it relieves her of an agonizing dilemma and removes the danger of confessing to her parents, who may punish her severely or forbid an abortion.

It always surprises me when someone encapsulates the situation is such few words.  Nicely said.

So, she should have control over her body in order to have surgery for reasons that may be immature or even imaginary but we want to take that control over her body away in terms of her sex life. 

When I say "immature" I mean she may be unwilling to let her parents know that she is being sexual (which I think is far more likely than that she is being abused because after all her sex partner isn't necessarily an adult) and when I say "imaginary" I mean she may be anticipating a reaction on her parents' part which is based more on irrational fear than fact.

I remember when my 16 year old daughter, in her first serious relationship, came to me for information on birth control. I gave her factual information and asked her why she didn't ask her mother. She said she was afraid her mother would be angry with her. I knew her mother wouldn't be and would give her even better information than I had, and I was right that she was happy to help our daughter.

I don't like the idea that everyone justifies allowing early teens to have a secret abortion on the idea that her parents must be monsters. I'd like to think most parents are not. (That's a general comment not necessarily aimed at you.)

@Unseen:

Your link makes a good case for regarding people as, basically, mental children until age 25. Is that your position?

That is not my position. Let me refine it a bit. Your question (the one I am addressing head on) is 

Why isn't a 14 year old of age enough to consent to sex.

The link provided is part of my position: That the 14 year old may not FULLY understand the consequences of her actions. She cannot necessarily weigh through her actions and act responsibly. I keep bringing up the abuse factor only because it really needs to be considered. If a 14 year old is engaged in sexual activity with someone a couple or a few years older I'm not as concerned as I am with a 14 year old having sex with someone even older. And at 14 you do not know any better. The scientific link I added shows this to be true on a biological level. In nowhere did I say or did that article say that we are mental children until 25. I am simply pointing out some biological reasons to consider when we are deciding whether a 14 year old is old enough to make adult decisions.

I don't like the idea that everyone justifies allowing early teens to have a secret abortion on the idea that her parents must be monsters. I'd like to think most parents are not.

I do not like the idea of allowing an early teen have a secret abortion either. I consider the 14 year old who has been raped by her father and gets pregnant the sort of person who might benefit from it. Not the typical teenager experimenting with sex who comes from a descent family. However I think that it is then down to the healthcare workers who are going to council and guide this woman in making her decision to be her advocate. That is a completely different topic in an of itself. The point being that if it's available to the girl who may truly need protection from her parents, it can protect and therefore be beneficial. I personally am against abortion myself. But for this argument and answering why I could justify allowing the abortion but not considering a 14 year old of the age of consent with an adult...those are my reasons. I hope I've been a little clearer this time.

I'll tell you why I don't take your link seriously: if one observes children in other countries with more desperate circumstances children became full adults in psychological terms much sooner, which shows that kids CAN become psychologically adult sooner. 

I think that it is then down to the healthcare workers who are going to council and guide this woman in making her decision to be her advocate.

What makes you think she's going to seek a healthcare worker when she can just buy the morning after pill or get a quick secret abortion? She'll then go back to her abuser. What's functional about that?

 if one observes children in other countries with more desperate circumstances children became full adults in psychological terms much sooner, which shows that kids CAN become psychologically adult sooner. 

Yes children in other countries become functional adults much sooner based on necessity. They learn to live like adults. This however does not mean that their prefrontal cortex is any more or less developed than a kid here in 'merica. It just means they have adapted and learned based on the cultural and socio economic conditions and have become mature in other ways compared to kids here that sit on their asses and play video games all day, (ok exaggeration here but it works...) My point is that a kid who's brain is still developing cannot always predict the same way and adult could the consequences of their actions. This goes for having sex and getting an abortion. And no, it's not functional for some kid to have a back alley abortion and run back to their abuser...now YOU are exaggerating a bit IMO. This is the whole point that now days abortion is legal so places like planned parenthood usually have these kids coming in. It's then THEIR jobs to ask questions and make sure they are making a sound decision. whether or not they do, that's another subject for another day. But if we make the age of consent lower pedophiles are going to have a field day with it and there will not no legal recourse parents can take because it would be "legal" to have sex with a minor that young and if they consent then it's a free for all. Are they capable of consenting without understanding all the ramifications. My personal experience AND science backs me up to say an emphatic NO.

 

"I'll tell you why I don't take your link seriously: if one observes children in other countries with more desperate circumstances children became full adults in psychological terms much sooner, which shows that kids CAN become psychologically adult sooner." 

Crapola - You only think that because you dont see the damaged adults that these traumatized children turn into - if they survive to be adults that is.

Case example:

Jacinta Saldahana - the Britich nurse who wasn't able to cope with life anymore and commited suicide after a prank phone call caused her to give up.

Her mother was too poor to care for her as a small child and she was farmed out. Probably abused and raped.

Extreme hardships in childhood does not create a more responsible and adult like child - it creates a traumatized child who becomes a fucked up adult. 

Whatever's in their prefrontal cortex doesn't seem to keep them from growing up and taking on adult roles. 

With the new availability of the morning after pill to anyone who wants it of any age, who needs Planned Parenthood. Surely to most 14 year olds a pill will seem a better option than a surgical procedure. Assuming of course they buy the pill the next day. If not, then they will go to PP. However, knowing teens...in one ear and out the other.

I'm not sure pedophiles will be having much of a field day since they are universally hated. Even most teens have an aversion to "old guys," so I don't expect a big surge in pedophiliac relationships. Besides, I don't know what will do the kid more harm: being boffed by a pedophile or the hysteria that usually accompanies real or percieved child abuse.

Why is she much to young? Humans have been having children at that age or younger for millennia. Having sex exposes ALL human beings to STD and all human beings with any reproductive capacity to the chance of creating a child. The average age of consent in the United States used to be 12. The drive to raise it was brought on by the Women's' Christian Temperance Union to delay female "participation in their self-pollution". All the rest of the arguments were tacked on later. Is it physically riskier for a younger female to have children? Yes. But the "burden, risk, and responsibility" of bearing and raising a child is only an issue if the mother lacks any framework of social support - which thankfully is a very rare occurrence in  our culture and society.

 "But the "burden, risk, and responsibility" of bearing and raising a child is only an issue if the mother lacks any framework of social support - which thankfully is a very rare occurrence in  our culture and society."

I'ts not RARE ....Its common.

This is why men dont get it - they just dont get it.

 

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