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Logan Brace

English 102, Argument Essay


Prof. Nazelrod
When the term sex offender arises, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Many
people think about an adult sexually abusing a young child. That could be true in many cases, but
there are some cases where innocent people are falsely accused or the circumstances are
different, yet fall under the same category as rape. Statutory rape laws within Maryland state that
people who engage in sexual activities with persons under the age of sixteen can be convicted of
statutory rape or similar crimes. Even if the person under the age of sixteen consents to sexual
activity, the person above the age of eighteen can still be convicted of a crime, such as Second
Degree Rape. The punishment for these crimes are up to twenty years in prison. Although the
person consented to sexual activity it is still classified as rape because of the age difference.
Statutory rape laws have been in effect for decades and should be changed in order to fit todays
society in which norms of sexual behavior are rapidly changing.
The biggest problem with statutory rape laws is that not everyone agrees which age is old
enough to understand the consequences of having sex and be able to legally consent to it. The
age of consent has gradually risen from the age of ten since colonial times. Laws such as this
were used to protect the ten year old children forced into marriage at young ages. Today society
has evolved. Now, the laws for statutory rape are focused on protecting adolescents who have the
complete capabilities of thinking for themselves. In the state of Maryland, the age of consent is
sixteen years of age, but in Alabama the age of consent is twelve years of age. Every state has a
different opinion on when an adolescent is able to consent to sexual activity. Arizona for instance
has the age of consent set at eighteen. A person over the age of eighteen who has sexual relations
with someone under the age of eighteen, varying by state, can face up to fifteen years in prison.
With the age of consent varying so much from state to state who is to say that a fourteen year old
doesnt know what sex is?
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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
Society today has changed over the last few decades. Sex culture has gone nationwide
and has had a huge impact on adolescent minds. In todays culture, sex sells, and it is
everywhere. There are television shows such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager,
Switched at Birth, The Fosters, and Glee that all mention sex and the normality of it. All of these
shows are aired on ABC Family which many adolescents watch on a daily basis. They learn
about what sex is and how it is handled through this media, but no one ever mentions the
consequences when someone over the age of eighteen has sexual relations with someone under
the age of sixteen. The series Switched at Birth touches on the subject in a way that is puzzling.
The main character, Bay, has a relationship with Ty, who is clearly much older and is a member
of military forces. Bay is fifteen years old and Ty is nineteen years old. The series showcases
their relationship as if it were normal, yet Ty could technically be imprisoned for having sexual
relations with someone under the age of sixteen.
When a person grows up watching television shows such as this, they learn from it. Most
adults dont have The Talk with their children anymore because they have already learned
about sex through different types of media. They know the consequences of having sexual
intercourse with someone else and some of them dont necessarily care. If an adolescent is
capable of going to school and conquering hours of homework that requires them to think, they
are more than capable of thinking for themselves when it comes to their own bodies. Teenagers
should have a say in what they are able to do with their own bodies and with who.
Of course, statutory rape laws have become a widening debate with society today. Policy
makers believe that creating tougher statutory rape laws will decrease the amount of teenage
pregnancy and welfare dependency among this generation of todays youth. Philadelphia

Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
Inquirer Marie McCullough quotes Delaware Governor Thomas R. Carper to the effect that for
too long society has turned a blind eye to the problem of adult men preying on young girls and
engaging in unlawful sexual activity with them (McCullough, Marie). In all actuality, many
citizens within Maryland are engaging in unlawful sexual activity. In Maryland it is against the
law to engage in oral sex. It is also against the law to have sex in any other position other than
the missionary position. If the state isnt willing to convict the many citizens who engage in this
type of unlawful sexual activity, they shouldnt convict those who had consensual sexual
relations with an adolescent under the age of consent.
Not every predator is innocent. In Eerie, a thirty year old man went on trial on charges
that he sexually molested a girl for four years, beginning when she was eight years old. That
should be intolerable. A child was sexually abused by a male who was twenty two years older
than she was. Its not the age difference that matters, her understanding of sex matters. Most
eight year olds don ot know anything about sex and how it works. The majority of adolescents
do not learn about sex until middle school, when they have reached the age of thirteen years old.
Statutory rape laws have been in effect for decades and the victims often want to protect, not
prosecute, perpetrators. Usually, if a person feels as though they have been violated and the
person who violated the victim is being prosecuted, the victim would testify against or go along
with police enforcement because they feel threated and are afraid. If someone who is supposed to
be the victim of a serious crime, they would not protect the violator. If the victim is protecting
them, there is obviously a reason.
Skeptics believe that harsher statutory rape laws are some kind of political ploy. In the
article Philadelphia Inquirer by Marie McCullough, it states politicians have inferred the link

Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
between statutory rape, adolescent pregnancy and welfare by overblowing a few recent studies
that show about two thirds of teen mothers have sex partners age 20 or older (McCullough,
Marie). Although the majority of adolescent mothers are between eighteen to nineteen years of
age, and are old enough to consent to sex, that is only a small part of the puzzle. One in five
teenage pregnancies involve adult men twenty or older and young girls seventeen or
younger. Marie McCullough also quotes Michael Males, author of a 1996 article on Fathers
ages in the American Journal of Public Health, We have a small and concentrated problem of
girls having babies with older men. I think there is little sexual predation and little coercion. I
would like to take the press and horsewhip them for the way theyve let politicians take the
numbers and hype it (McCullough, Marie). Still, many people applaud the crackdown for
calling attention to deviant relationships.
This crackdown takes a cue from congress, which passed a landmark welfare-reform law
urging states and communities to aggressively enforce statutory rape laws. (McCullough,
Marie). California is dedicating 8.4 million dollars to tracking down statutory rapists through
teenage mothers welfare applications, and send them to prison. So far it has led to three hundred
convictions, and a new law has imposed civil penalties of two thousand to twenty five thousand
dollars for statutory rape. That is three hundred fathers taken away from their children and
assuming each violator had one child and was still in a relationship with the mother, nine
hundred lives have been ruined. The violators have now been convicted of a crime, although
the victim didnt pursue charges. The violator now has to register as a sexual offender, even
though he did not engage in sexual activity against anyones will. The child has lost a parent, and
the childs mother now has to raise that child on her own, because the father was imprisoned. All
of their lives ruined because the government is concerned about money. The government does
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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
not care about the children being sexually abused, they care about how much these children
are costing them because they get pregnant at a young age and cannot financially support
themselves. There is no research directly linking statutory rape with teenage pregnancy, much
less welfare.
When U.S Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri used the phrase Legitimate rape to
defend his opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest, President Obama fired back, saying
that we should not be parsing and qualifying and slicing types of rape (Freedman, Estelle B.).
For most of American history though, that is exactly what we have been doing. Our legal
definition of rape has evolved over centuries, and the fighting is not over. In the 19th century,
laws around the country defined rape as the sexual knowledge of a woman when achieved by
force by a man other than her husband. A husband had authority over his wifes person and
property. Womans Rights Advocates began questioning these views in the mid-19th century, and
their efforts helped to re-shape the meaning of rape. Yet there are still men within the
government trying to dictate what a woman, or adolescent, can or cannot do with their bodies.
The government should stick with the true definition of rape, forcibly asserting sexual
intercourse on to a person who is unwilling to participate in the sexual act.
Many states also make a distinction between sexual contact and sexual intercourse. There
are instances in which activities that, under different circumstances we might refer to as foreplay
or outer-course, can be illegal depending on the age of the participants. In an article called
Statutory Rape Laws are Confusing by Martha Kempner, she states that in Connecticut, sexual
intercourse with someone who is less than 16 is illegal under certain circumstances but sexual
contact with someone who is less than 15 is illegal regardless of the age of the perpetrator

Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
(Kempner, Martha). To prevent this type of behavior from happening between adolescents, we
should just give them a law book to read as they grow older, so they know that their normal
growing hormones are illegal and they could get arrested for engaging in this type of activity
with their significant others. Society takes an inventively negative view on teenagers sexual
behavior, when it is all a natural part of growing up, and not a problem that needs to be fixed.
These laws are based on the assumption that adolescents cannot think for themselves,
even though they are expected to attend school and conquer hours of assignments that require
them to think for themselves. Another defining moment for these laws is that they are supposed
to be gender neutral, but that is hardly the case. In the article Statutory Rape Laws are
Confusing, Martha Kempner quotes Debra Haffner, a reverend and executive director of the
religious institute points out that the culture still says that boys with older girlfriends are lucky,
and girls with older boyfriends are exploited (Kempner, Martha). We invalidate the sexual
tendency of women. We assume that anything they do until a certain age has got to be
victimization, when in all reality women are perfectly capable of handling their own. Mandatory
reporting laws are even more complicated than age of consent laws. This is a dangerous example
to set when we ultimately want to ensure that young women are able to see themselves as equal
participants in sexual relationships, who have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes
to sexual behavior. It is also a dangerous message to send to young men who are often told boys
will be boys and expected to be aggressive when it comes to sex. Culture wants boys who are
predatory because that proves they are real men, and we teach them that they can never say no to
a sexual advance. It seems unfair then that there are laws that can punish young men for saying
yes to what both parties believe is a consensual experience.

Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
Mandatory Reporting laws are laws that require certain professionals, including educators
and providers, to report any act or suspected act of statutory rape. These mandatory reporting
laws are perhaps more complicated than statutory rape laws because this is often covered in child
abuse laws, and some states declare statutory rape under the same category as child abuse, while
others do not. The department of Health and Human Services explains in those states where the
definition of child abuse does not explicitly refer to statutory rape, discrepancies between the
legality of certain sexual activities and whether they are reportable offenses are more common
(Kempner, Martha). In Georgia all sexual activity with persons under the age of sixteen are
illegal, but only if the perpetrator is five years older than the victim. In Utah, sexual conduct with
someone who is between sixteen and eighteen is only illegal if the defendant is ten or more years
older than the victim. However, sexual abuse includes all acts of sexual intercourse, molestation,
or sodomy, with someone under eighteen regardless of the age of the defendant and sexual abuse
is a reportable offense. There is a lot of confusion within these laws, and no state can agree on
what the age of consent should be because they all range from ages fourteen to eighteen with set
year differences in between.
Due to the statutory rape laws in effect in Georgia, an eighteen year old football player
Marcus Dwayne Dixon, who had a football scholarship to Vanderbilt, life has been ruined.
According to the article The Pros and Cons of Statutory Rape Laws on CNN by Sherry F. Colb,
one proactive underlying, though unstated, question that has contributed to the notoriety of this
case is whether the law can legitimately send teenagers to prison for having sex with other
teenagers, in the absence of force. Because every state has a statutory rape law in some form,
this case presents a challenge to a long and continuing tradition of criminal laws that confine
men for what could be consensual sex with minors who are close to the age of majority. Statutory
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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
rape laws have a checkered past. A primary purpose was to guard the virginity of young maidens
against seduction. To give up one's "virtue" to a man who was unwilling to pay with his hand in
marriage was foolish and a product of youthful, poor judgment. Such laws had more to do with
preserving female virginity than with the force and violence that define rape. One sign of this is
the fact that a man could, and in some states still can, defend himself against statutory rape
charges by proving that his victim was already sexually experienced prior to their encounter, and
thus not subject to being corrupted by the defendant.
Despite their unsavory beginnings, however, some feminists have favored these laws as
well. Progressive women supported such statutes mainly as measures to help combat the sexual
abuse of young girls. Though a statutory rape charge would not require proof of force or
coercion, feminists observed, young girls were, and may continue to be, especially vulnerable to
being raped by the adults in their lives. In one study, for example, seventy-four percent of
women who had intercourse before age fourteen and sixty percent of those who had sex before
age fifteen report having had a forced sexual experience.
At some level, we might have doubts about the competence of a minor to "consent," in a
meaningful way, to sexual activity. Because of her youth, the minor might not fully appreciate
the full physical and emotional implications of her decision, including the possibility of offspring
for which she will likely have little means of support. But when it comes to statutory rape, is it
just rape with the absence of one element? The U.S. Supreme Court required that prosecutors
prove every element of a crime, beyond a reasonable doubt, before a conviction can be
constitutionally valid. Removing the "force" element of rape and leaving only intercourse and
age might seem to amount to a presumption that the force element of rape is established, without
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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
the prosecutor's having to prove it and without the defense even having the option of
affirmatively disproving it.
Such a presumption allows for the possibility that a fully consensual sexual encounter
will be prosecuted and punished as rape. Some might believe that this unfairly subjects innocent
men to harsh treatment, simply in the name of deterring other, unrelated men, from engaging in
very different and far more culpable sorts of conduct. There are two potential responses to this
concern. First, there might be doubts about the competence of a minor to consent, in a
meaningful way, to sexual activity. Because of her youth, the minor might not fully appreciate
the full physical and emotional implications of her decision, including the possibility of offspring
for which she will likely have little means of support. There are adolescents though, that know
the implications that come with having sexual intercourse and they just dont care.
Many adults might also fall into this category, and the decision to treat intercourse as
distinctive in this way may simply represent a revival of the old view that maidens should be
protected from the corruption of their virtue. Why should girls who are sexually attracted to men
be considered the men's victims rather than consenting participants? Rape is forcing someone to
have sexual intercourse against their will. Adolescents consenting to having sexual intercourse,
where they are not being forced to do something they dont want to do, should be up to them. It
shouldnt be up to the government on what age is acceptable for an adolescent to have sexual
intercourse with someone their own age or older.
The possibility of convicting in a case of consensual sex is unacceptable and
unconstitutional. Prosecutors and juries, on this reasoning, should not have the option of finding

Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
a person guilty in the absence of force, regardless of how unlikely they are to exercise that
option. Consensual sex is not criminal, period. The assumptions underlying this reaction,
however, are at odds with other areas of the criminal law.
Consider drug laws such as possession of a large quantity of narcotics. It is regularly
treated as a far more serious offense than possession of a smaller quantity. One reason is that the
first is viewed as possession with the intent to distribute, while the second is thought to be
consistent with personal use. Since legislators and others view dealing as much more harmful
than mere possession, the penalties are accordingly more severe. Yet possession of a large
quantity of drugs, is not necessarily accompanied by an intent to distribute. A person might
possess large amounts of drugs to avoid having to risk apprehension or sources drying out,
through repeated purchases.
Suppose the drug statute did require proof of intent to distribute. If so, then the judge
would, on request, have to instruct the jury that the fact of quantity alone is enough for a
conviction only if the jury draws the inference, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant
intended distribution. Without a finding of intent, the jury would have to acquit. With the statute
providing instead that quantity is the sole element, however, intent becomes legally irrelevant. As
a result, even the prosecutor and jury who know that the defendant is simply saving up for an
anticipated heroin shortage rather than planning to deal drugs, can convict the defendant of the
more serious felony without giving rise to any grounds for appeal.
By crafting a statute without an "intent to distribute" element, in other words, legislators
target distribution without requiring its proof, or even allowing for its disproof. One might

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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
characterize this as a constitutional right of proving every element of guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt.
In the article The Pros and Cons of Statutory Rape Laws by Sherry F. Colb states The
same end run accusation can be leveled against statutory rape laws. Young girls may represent a
substantial portion of rape victims, perhaps because they are vulnerable and have not yet become
sufficiently suspicious of the people around them (Colb, Sherry F.). In most cases, a truly
consensual encounter with a minor will probably not be brought to a prosecutor's attention or
trigger the prosecutorial will to punish. Many people over the age of 18 who have sexual
relations with adolescents are falsely accused of statutory rape under the presumption that the
adolescent could not legally consent to sexual activity, when in all actuality that adolescent has
the capability to consent to something that involves their own bodies. Those who agree with that
logic are imprisoned, their lives ruined due to the guideline that since they had sexual activity
with a person below the age of consent they now have to register as a sexual offender, when
they are not morally child molesters.
When it comes down to the rights of ones own body, that right is taken away due to laws such
as Statutory Rape. In todays society sex sells, and it is everywhere, so who is to say that an
adolescent is not capable of consent, when they are expected to think for themselves and take on
hours of school work and gradually become an adult. If adolescents are expected to grow up
they cannot do so if a decision such as this, is illegal. Statutory Rape Laws across the United
States of America are not within unison of each other, and no one can agree what the appropriate
age is for consent. Due to the uncertainty alone, Statutory rape laws should be changed in order
to fit todays society in which norms of sexual behavior are rapidly changing.
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English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod

Bibliography

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Logan Brace
English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod
Mccullough, Marie. "Creating Babies Against the Law: A Widening Debate." Philadelphia
Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) 1997 apr 06: A1+ DB - SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 21 Apr.
2015.
Freedman, Estelle B. "How Do We Define Rape? That Depends on Your Race, Sex and
Century." Washington Post 2012 aug 26: B.5 DB - SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 21 Apr.
2015.
Kempner, Martha. Age of Consent Laws are Confusing. Age of Consent. Ed. Christine
Watkins. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Rpt. From Legislating Teen Sex:
Whats (Terribly) Wrong with Our Age of Consent Laws. 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in
Context. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Kempner, Martha. Consensual Sex Among Teens Should Not Be Criminalized. Teen Dating.
Ed. Louise I. Geredes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt From
Legislating Teen Sex: Whats (Terribly) Wrong with Our Age of Consent Laws. 2012.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Statutory Rape Laws by State, 2003. Child Abuse and Domestic Violence. Melissa J. Doak.
2007 ed. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Information Plus Reference Series. Opposing Viewpoints in
Context. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Colb, S. F. (2004, February 13) The Pros and Cons of Statutory Rape. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
Weiss, L. (Director). (2011). Switched at Birth [Television Series]. United States of America.
McTigue, M. (2002). Gender and Legal History.

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English 102, Argument Essay
Prof. Nazelrod

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