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eGuide Archives: Statutory Rape

The Child Protection eGuide
An electronic publication of Survivors And Victims Empowered
Volume 2, Issue 32
August 17, 2009

Tip of the Week:
Research also shows that when a child is having a sexual relationship with a much older partner, one that would classify as statutory rape, the teen's friends are almost always are aware of it. Ask your children if they or any of their friends are involved with an older teen. The presence of a boyfriend or girlfriend more than 2 years older than your child is a red flag and cause for concern, but only 3 in 10 statutory rapes involve boyfriends and girlfriends, with more than 6 in 10 being mere acquaintances.

 Other Resources:

Statutory Rape

The statistics on statutory rape victims and offenders are startling. 95% of statutory rape victims are female. Over 99% of the offenders of female statutory rape victims were male. 94% of the offenders of male statutory rape victims are female. 3 of every 5 statutory rape victims are 14 or 15 years old, with relatively equal proportions in each of these ages. Yet 70% of all offenders of male statutory rape victims were 21 or older, and 45% of offenders of female statutory rape victims were 21 and older. OJJDP bulletin here

Statutory rape, a term loosely used to refer to illegal sexual activity between a minor who has not reached the age of consent, and an adult, is the principal cause of both loss of virginity and pregnancy in girls under the age of 15 in the United States. ChildTrendsStatRapeHandout

In fact, if a girl age 15 or younger (the age of consent is at least 16 in every state in the union for sexual contact with an adult) is pregnant, there is at least a 62% chance that the father of the girls baby is an adult. If two girls are pregnant, there is an 84% chance that at least one of the girls babies father is an adult. With three girls, the odds jump to 95.4%. At four, it is 98.25% and by the time there are 5 pregnant girls, the odds skyrocket to a 99.3% chance that at least one of the girls is pregnant with an adult.

Additionally, as this chart shows, teens whose first sexual experience was as a result of statutory rape are much more likely to have a teen birth than other sexually active teens.

In addition to teen pregnancy, statutory rape increases the incidence of drug use and dropping out of school, even when compared to other sexually active teens.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court explains why age of consent laws are passed in the first place. In Pennsylvania, all sexual activity is illegal under the age of the 13, and the age of consent is 16, with a two year difference allowed between the partners, meaning an adult can only legally engage in sexual activity with a 16-year-old, and even another teen cannot engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 13. This case involved a group of 15-year-old boys who had what they claimed was consensual sex with an 11-year-old girl at a Philadelphia Phillies game.

"[We] agree that the Legislature, by criminalizing sexual contact with minors under 13 irrespective of consent, intended to protect young children as a class from being sexually exploited who, due to their youth or inexperience, lack the judgment necessary to protect themselves from sexual aggressors," Justice Max Baer said. "Moreover, we believe that the preclusion of a minor's consent as a defense to sexual contact also reflects a broader societal notion that sexual contact with children under 13 is, as a general matter, reprehensible regardless of consent because, at such a young age, these children are deemed legally incapable of giving consent.

"Accordingly, we find it consistent with our Legislature's intent to protect young children from sexual exploitation, to reject with equal force, in both the criminal and civil contexts, the proposition that an 11-year-old has the capacity to consent to sex." (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, February 25, 2008) PA Law Weekly article here

A principal benefit of age of consent laws is that they keep prosecutors from having to prove forcible rape on a young child. There are three forcible juvenile rapes for every consensual statutory rape.

Reminder of the week: Research shows that even more than religiosity and abstinence education, parents may be the single greatest resource in delaying the start of a teens sexual activity. Dont assume that your children know that you want them to delay sexual activity until they are older, or married. Tell them so. Also tell them sexual activity between adults and children is always wrong.

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