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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Also, please soften my seemingly harshness towards you. I had just woke up.

Harsh? 

Bah!

Some of us like it rough!

Rawr.

My kind of girl! ;)

What would have happened if "Kate" had been a boy?  Your article extract says that this matter focuses on LGBT discrimination, and I need to understand how it would all operate if it were a heterosexual situation, before I can fully understand the contrast.

Some say that if it had been a boy-girl situation it could have been easier or worse, depending on whether the older party was the boy or girl (the strange way our society feels that females need more protection in such situations). Also, laws vary widely from place to place. In some jurisdictions sex between an of-age person and an underage person isn't a crime if the age difference is only 2 years or 4 years. So, there is no quick and easy answer to your question.

I also don't know what would have happened had both been boys.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) wants to defend her, so this will make the situation interesting and ensure she gets about the best defense possible.

Legal experts are saying that, unpleasant and distasteful as it may be, she should take the offered deal. By agreeing to plead guilty, she'll get a relatively small sentence but have guilty to a sex crime on her record. If she goes to trial and loses, she faces up to 15 years in prison and will be a registered sex offender when she gets out.

Tough choice, but most plea deals are Hobson's choices.

Thanks for appreciating the honesty in my question.  As I now understand it (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) the apparent malice in the parents action is what makes it a discriminatory event.  Other than that, I imagine if it had been a heterosexual encounter, the same rules would apply. 

It seems to me that whatever the deemed "age of consent" is in a given place, there will always be those who are still too young to make adult decisions after that age, and those who reached sufficient maturity ahead of that age.  Hormones fly all over the place in teens, and I don't know if sexual or legal education surrounding such encounters would actually achieve a reduction in occurrence.

The purpose of signing a sex offenders register, however, is surely to enable prevention or avoidance of future offences by the perpetrator.  I would have thought that adding teens who have experimented sexually with other teens to such a register would only serve to dilute the purpose, and reduce the efficacy of the registry system as a whole.

Thanks for appreciating the honesty in my question.  As I now understand it (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) the apparent malice in the parents action is what makes it a discriminatory event.  Other than that, I imagine if it had been a heterosexual encounter, the same rules would apply. 

Theoretically, the law should be blind to the sex of the parties or whether the relationship was gay or straight. However, as we know, things don't always work that way and prosecutors have great discretion in how to charge such cases. Even if the prosecutor is now thinking perhaps he overcharged the case, it's hard to say to the world "I was wrong."

It seems to me that whatever the deemed "age of consent" is in a given place, there will always be those who are still too young to make adult decisions after that age, and those who reached sufficient maturity ahead of that age.  Hormones fly all over the place in teens, and I don't know if sexual or legal education surrounding such encounters would actually achieve a reduction in occurrence.

Back to my question: if a girl is old enough to consent to surgery on her own (abortion) why isn't she old enough to consent to having sex with an 18 year old? Actually, the sex started when both were minors, the older girl being 17 at the time. She was charged only when she turned 18.

The purpose of signing a sex offenders register, however, is surely to enable prevention or avoidance of future offences by the perpetrator.  I would have thought that adding teens who have experimented sexually with other teens to such a register would only serve to dilute the purpose, and reduce the efficacy of the registry system as a whole.

Well, I think that in order to be fair, and protect minors in the future, one needs to be sure about this: was the youth of the "victim" the primary attraction or was it a sexual relationship based on the attraction of two personalities? We don't want to turn someone into a registered sex offender unless the person is an actual pedophile.

Perhaps there should be a "junior" list, where both parties are post-puberty but under 20 years old.  If a crime (not specifically a sexual one) is perpetrated by a minor, but discovered when the perpetrator is an adult, are they charged as an adult for that crime?

As to the consent question, isn't that a tricky one.  The idea of an "age of consent" is to handle protection for children deemed not able to make decisions for themselves.  In the case of a 14yo having an abortion without parental consent, one has to question the parenting approach.  Why can the child not get the parents to consent? That's really the tragedy, I think.

Basically, one of the two cases you outline (consent to sex) is precautionary, the other (abortion) is disaster mitigation.  The combination is not always inappropriate.. 

"Don't do this - oh shit, you did it anyway, how do we fix it?"

As to the consent question, isn't that a tricky one.  The idea of an "age of consent" is to handle protection for children deemed not able to make decisions for themselves.  In the case of a 14yo having an abortion without parental consent, one has to question the parenting approach.  Why can the child not get the parents to consent? That's really the tragedy, I think.

Very tricky, indeed. We don't get to choose our parents. If we deem a 14 year old sufficiently adult enough to consent to an abortion without parental consent, why not breast enhancement or getting her boyfriend's name tattooed on her forehead?

I suspect that in most cases the 14 year old who wants an abortion isn't really doing it because her parents are beasts, but simply because she doesn't want them to know she has been having sex. 

To me, abortion is disaster aversion, and doesn't compare to body augmentation. 

Disaster aversion or avoiding an uncomfortable but possibly necessary conversation with her parents? 

Nobody seems to want to go on the record whether or not a 14 year old who can assign herself surgery isn't ipso facto mature enough to be having sex with anyone she chooses, no matter their age.

I'm not asking because I want to bang a girl in her early teens, but because I'm a philosopher and I'd be asking questions like this to the students in my Philo 1010 class to uncover how we think about such things. Whether we're consistent, whether we're being reasonable, etc.

.....................................................................

Both, probably.  The abortion is a clear-up of a mistake already made, and an avoidance of bringing another human being in to the world that the biological mother would be too young to care for properly.  A random 14 year old may well be able to decide to have sex.  In your example, she certainly did appear to decide to have sex.  Are you asking if the "age of consent" should be reviewed, or that the age for having an independent abortion be re-considered?

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