We talk about teens and sex frequently. Last year we covered topics like how to talk to your teens about sex, teen sex trends, sexting, oral sex, emotions related to sex and on and on. This year, I’d like to bring up yet another perspective on teenage sexuality that I think that we have neglected.
How many of you know about the laws related to teen sex? We know according to the National Survey of Family Growth that teens in the U.S. are on the average having sex when they are around the age of 17. Nonetheless, according to the law, the different states in the U.S. have
different legal requirements regarding when sex is actually legal. In the U.S. having sex before the ages of 16-18 is often illegal even if both partners consent. The legal age varies across countries. In Spain and South Korea the age of legal consent is 13. In Iran and Saudi Arabia you are required to be married first.
So, even though parents may be turning a blind eye on the laws they are still in existence. They sort of remind me of driving laws. Just because you let an underage teen drive doesn’t make it legal. And, of course, a person over the age of consent who has sex with a teenager can be arrested and charged with a crime even if both parties consent.
What do we do with these laws? We certainly cannot expect and hope for all teens who are having sex to be charged with criminal behavior. At least, that’s not what I am rallying for. I think that you should simply be aware of the facts and share them with your teens. My guess is that they will be very surprised.