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Old 08-18-2004, 03:35 PM   #1
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Sex with minors: major offense

Sex with minors: major offense
Campaign seeks to raise men's awareness of what is right, legal

BY TAMMIE SMITH
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Jun 20, 2004

Herman Johnson Jr. can tell when he has touched on a particularly sensitive topic when lecturing middle school students on why they should delay sexual activity.

Johnson, vice president of education for The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, said students start giving each other signals with their eyes.

Two topics almost certain to get reaction, he said, are sexually transmitted diseases and unequal relationships, such as when a young girl is involved with an older man.

"You see them make eyes at each other, as if they are saying that relates to somebody we know," said Johnson, who has been teaching "Respecting Your Future" and "Postponing Sexual Involvement" classes to Richmond middle-schoolers for six years.


"I noticed I struck a chord."

That chord of discomfort is something the Virginia Department of Health hopes to instill in older men as the department launches a media campaign that reminds men that having sex with girls younger than 18 is a crime.

That message and the warning "Don't Go There" are going up on billboards around Richmond and will be printed on napkins and drink coasters that will be distributed to restaurants, bars and retail places in the Richmond area in upcoming weeks.

Such relationships are responsible for only a fraction of teenage pregnancies and teen births, but they are particularly troubling. Research studies show that girls who have sex for the first time at ages 11 or 12 are more likely than older teens to have male partners who are much older. Girls with much older boyfriends are much more likely to get pregnant than girls with boyfriends closer to their own age.

Girls with male partners who are much older may have emotional issues that drive them to the relationships or that result from the relationships. A Vermont study of 1,439 college students found that girls who had sex for the first time at age 13 were more likely to report current "psychological distress" than girls who had first intercourse at age 14 or 15. One study of U.S. maternal health data showed that almost a third of men with a minor partner did not have a high school diploma.

Children born of these unequal relationships, Johnson said, are less likely to be raised by two parents and get proper parenting.

"You have cases where the young lady is often left to fend for herself," Johnson said.

The "Don't Go There" campaign has also started in Roanoke and in the Northern Virginia cities of Arlington, Falls Church and Alexandria. The Hampton Roads area was the site of a test run of the campaign last summer.

"So many campaigns focus on the minor" child, said Robert Franklin, male outreach coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health's Center for Injury and Violence Prevention. "They expect the youth to have the skills to resist a skilled, capable adult.

"We have to get people to realize this is an issue. Then, let's start changing that male peer culture. That's why we are targeting men, putting the messages in bars, male restrooms. . . . We need to get men talking to each other."

First comes education. Franklin said a survey of 205 people asked to evaluate the pilot campaign in Hampton Roads provided a glimpse of the confusion surrounding state laws on sex with minors.

"Sixty-nine percent of the people we interviewed last summer knew an adult dating a minor. They all agreed it was illegal, though they got it wrong in terms of how illegal it was," Franklin said.

That is probably because the laws vary according to the circumstances. In Virginia, the age of consent is 18. Sexual relations with very young teenagers can be a felony in some cases, or may be a misdemeanor if the teen is several years older but still underage. (See box.)

A report prepared for the Virginia Department of Health shows that statewide in 1998, 1999 and 2000, there were 336 births to girls who got pregnant when they were 13 or 14 years old and where the baby's father was three or more years older than the girl.

During those three years, there were 1,192 births to Virginia girls under age 15 and 14,609 births to girls ages 15 to 17.

Few statutory rape cases are pursued. Statewide, there were 110 statutory rape offenses reported in 1999 and 70 arrests. In 2000, there were 218 offenses reported and 131 arrests.

Attempts have been made before, at least in Richmond, to get people to obey the law. In Richmond in 1997, four city agencies launched an initiative targeting adult males who have sex with young girls. There were efforts to educate via fliers, public service announcements and speaking engagements at schools. Prosecutors promised to pursue more cases.

The initiative may have had some impact. Richmond, Chesterfield County and Virginia Beach are among the localities that report more than five statutory rape arrests in 2000, according to the state Health Department report.

The current campaign's "in your face" approach is "a long time coming," said Johnson, of Planned Parenthood, but he and others said cultural and social issues may affect the campaign's impact.

"Some of these parents know their girls are dating older guys," said Johnson. "In some cases these guys are helping to pay the bills in the house. . . . There are some economic factors."

Freida Ann McNeil, who runs a community empowerment program in Richmond and who teaches classes on healthy relationships, brings up the same issue.

"A lot of people have a different perception of the purpose of relationships," McNeil said. "If the relationship is for financial support, you cannot get that from someone your own age," she said of young girls.

"I think our current condition has spawned a fertile ground for this activity. People are not working, so don't have resources. They find a way to get it."

"It's a very complicated issue, in part, because there is not a uniform concept of the inappropriateness of this behavior," said McNeil, who sees the need for a much more facilitated approach to addressing the problem.

"I would train bartenders, so when the conversation gets going, somebody with the company line will have something to say," McNeil said. "The presumption is that the company line is shared by everyone in the community. I think that's a faulty assumption."

MORE

Virginia laws Several Virginia statutes deal with sexual relations involving children under 18:

* Anyone 18 years of age or older who has sex with a consenting 13- or 14-year-old minor can be convicted of a class four felony, which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 fine.
* Anyone 18 years of age or older who has sex with a consenting 15-, 16- or 17-year-old minor can be convicted of a class one misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,5000 fine.
* Sexual intercourse with a child under age 13 is considered rape.
* Other statutes deal with sexual relations when the accused is also a minor or when the accused marries the minor. For more information

On the Web www.varapelaws.org

The report "Estimating the Incidence of Statutory Rape in Virginia" http://www.vahealth.org/civp/sexualv...e/statrape.pdf

What do you guys think about statutory rape laws?
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Old 08-18-2004, 04:04 PM   #2
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it used to be that in PA there was no age of consent for males. which meant that if a male over the age of consent had sex with a woman under the age he could go to jail BUT a woman over the age who had sex with a male under the age would not. i had an older girlfreind at the time so we checked anyway a list of the ages of consent for each state. some may have changed as this list was compiled in 2002:

State Age of Consent
Alabama 16
Alaska 18
Arkansas 18
Arizona 18
California 18
Colorado 15
Connecticut 16
Delaware 16
D.C. 16
Florida 18
Georgia 16
Hawaii 14
Idaho 18
Illinois 18
Indiana 16
Iowa 16
Kansas 16
Kentucky 16
Louisiana 17
Maine 16
Maryland 16
Massachusetts 16
Michigan 16
Minnesota 16
Mississippi 18
Missouri 17
Montana 16
Nebraska 16
Nevada 16
New Hampshire 16
New Jersey 16
New Mexico 17
New York 17
North Carolina 16
North Dakota 16
Ohio 16
Oklahoma 18
Oregon 18
Pennsylvania 14
Rhode Island 16
South Carolina 15
Tennessee 18
Texas 17
Utah 16
Vermont 16
Virginia 18
Washington 16
West Virginia 16
Wisconsin 18
Wyoming 16
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:42 PM   #3
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wow it's 14 here!!! thats just wrong!
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:48 PM   #4
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If there's grass on the field...

I can't believe people actually do that stuff. Anyone below 16 can't possibly be physically mature. I'd say most girls below 20 are not mentally mature.
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:51 PM   #5
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The thing that always burns me about this is it's not an older man having sex with a youg girl. It's an older PERSON having sex with a younger PERSON. When the sexes are reveresed, the punishment is always lower!
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:53 PM   #6
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Amazing especially since through history women have been getting married around 12-14.

Quote:
During the Middle Ages, the practice of youthful marriages continued and women married as early as fourteen. Men generally waited until they were more established in life which was usually when they were in their twenties or early thirties. In 1371, due to the plague, the average age at marriage for men was 24, and for women it was 16. By 1427, the average male of all classes did not wed til he was in his mid-30's, usually choosing a bride about half his age. Rich girls seemed to marry at a younger age than poor girls.
It is obvious from a historical perspective that marriages of teenagers (at least teenage girls) were quite common. However, that trend has changed in most countries of the world. Today, young love is neither encouraged or readily accepted by society.
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Old 08-18-2004, 07:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WHealy
The thing that always burns me about this is it's not an older man having sex with a youg girl. It's an older PERSON having sex with a younger PERSON. When the sexes are reveresed, the punishment is always lower!

That's because guys are always trying to get laid once they've had sex ed in 5th grade.

Remember that hot teacher who slept with a 14 year old? That guy is probably getting props for being a mad pimp, when he's a rape victim. It's a double standard, much like guys are pimps girls are *****.
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:03 PM   #8
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I believe statutory rape protects well against relationships between much older men and very young girls, and actual child molestation, but what about the kids that are 2~3 years apart? For example, Marcus Dixon, who was slated to start playing college football at Villanova, was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl while he was 18. He was giving a 10-year prison sentence. In addition, the boy was black, and the girl was white.

I think it's hypocritical for lawmakers to advocate statutory rape, particularly in cases such as Dixon's. What about Strom Thurman, who allegedly slept with a minor while he was 22, and had an illegitimate child together? By today's standards, he would be in jail so fast. What about the frat parties in which it's loaded with freshman girls...high school freshmen, and say you get shitfaced and you wind up sleeping with a 16 year old girl, assuming you're well-overaged (20~22 years)? Are you liable to be thrown in jail? I say put the judge in the same situation, and see if he doesn't make the same mistake.

No, I'm not advocating the idea of 20-year-old guys to sleep with 15-year-old girls. I am however angered by the fact that a man of that age has the idea of getting thrown in jail in the back of his head for being in a loving relationship with a girl at most 3 years his junior.
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelleys_man_06
No, I'm not advocating the idea of 20-year-old guys to sleep with 15-year-old girls.
they can legally in:


Colorado 15

Hawaii 14

Pennsylvania 14

South Carolina 15
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonHamilton
AFAIK, most states have rape laws that also take into account that as long as the participants are within 3 years of each other, it isn't a big deal.
For example, in NY:

Quote:
According to Article 130 (Sexual Offenses) of the New York Penal Code, if the perpetrator is less than 21 years of age and the victim is under 17 years, this is a sexual misconduct offense; if the perpetrator is older than 21 and the victim is under 17, t his is known as third degree rape; if the perpetrator is older than 18 and the victim is less than 14, then this is second degree rape; and, if the victim is younger than 11 years of age, then first degree rape has been committed.
It varies from state to state, but I'm not looking it up for every state :P
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Old 08-18-2004, 09:51 PM   #11
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With the declining age of puberty the last few generations, the age should be 14 everywhere.....but not for my daughter. :p
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Old 08-18-2004, 09:55 PM   #12
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I think it's more of a metal thing than a physical thing. Simply put, someone at 12 isn't wise enough to decide who to have sex with. On the other hand, I see the irony in such a statement given mankind's history and the fact that many of us are the result of such unions.

Another big factor is that we live fairly long these days. There just isn't a need or rush to start popping out the kids at an early age. Those who do these days tend to be uneducated and can barely support themselves.
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Old 08-19-2004, 11:59 AM   #13
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I can see what Shelley is saying about how if you're only a couple years apart and in a loving relationship but one just happens to be over 18 and the other under, that it shouldn't be considered a crime. However, it is the law and when I was 18 and dating a 16 year old girl (we started dating when I was 17 and her 15) we were very open with her mom so that there would be no surprises.
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Old 08-19-2004, 12:00 PM   #14
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Me too. I left no stone unturned so that I wouldn't get a hot beef injection in the slammer.
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Old 08-19-2004, 12:13 PM   #15
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my day was going fine until you put that visual into my head :p
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Old 08-19-2004, 12:13 PM
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