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The age of consent?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Firebrand
Posts: 686
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:05 am

The age of consent?

#1 Post by Firebrand » May 12th, 2008, 5:22 pm

Everybody read The Sun today?

*ducks*

A MAN living with a girl of 15 got another 14-year-old pregnant then "ruined her life", it emerged yesterday.

We told last week how predator Jack Moore, 26, shacked up with Victoria Pilkington, 15 — and police said they couldn’t do anything about it, even though she is underage.

It has emerged Moore bedded Aquilla Newble, now 21, and left her to look after their three kids aged six, four and three.

Yet police also refused to act when her parents reported him seven years ago — just as they have snubbed appeals from Victoria’s family to save her from his clutches.

Aquilla, of Crawley, West Sussex, said: "Jack’s a predator who likes young girls because he can manipulate them. He always knew how old I was.

"He got me so young and ground me down. Now I see an evil pattern to his behaviour. He got me pregnant again and again to trap me. He’ll do the same to Victoria. I ran away to be with him just like Victoria and my mum called police but they didn’t do anything.

"Jack told me he had been with hundreds of girls — one of his many lies, so I did feel pressured into sleeping with him."

Jack has two kids from an earlier relationship but has not seen them for ten years. Victoria’s mum Suzanne Woolven, 45, has urged police to arrest him.

But child protection officers said they would be "jobsworths" if they removed him from the hovel they share in Bletchingly, Surrey, adding it could be difficult to prosecute.

I don't understand. I thought the age of consent was 16 so how come he got a 14 year old pregnant and was never charged?

It's nearly 25 years since the 47-year-old Bill Wyman fell for the 13-year-old Mandy Smith. I was a teenager myself at the time and I remember being absolutely horrified at the thought of them together (yes, I know he waited until she was all grown up at 16 and he was only 50) but I don't remember him ever being called a perve or anything like that.

As a matter of interest, what would people here do if a guy much older than their under-age daughter came sniffing round her?

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The age of consent?

#2 Post by Alan H » May 12th, 2008, 5:59 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Maria Mac
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Re: The age of consent?

#3 Post by Maria Mac » May 12th, 2008, 11:07 pm

Firebrand wrote: I don't understand. I thought the age of consent was 16 so how come he got a 14 year old pregnant and was never charged?
No idea. Though as the report is in the Sun, I wouldn't put too much faith in it being 100% accurate.
It's nearly 25 years since the 47-year-old Bill Wyman fell for the 13-year-old Mandy Smith. I was a teenager myself at the time and I remember being absolutely horrified at the thought of them together (yes, I know he waited until she was all grown up at 16 and he was only 50) but I don't remember him ever being called a perve or anything like that.
I called him a perve, you just didn't hear me. What really disgusted me was that her mother encouraged his interest and pressured her daughter into reciprocating.
As a matter of interest, what would people here do if a guy much older than their under-age daughter came sniffing round her?
Punch his lights out.

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Jumile
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Joined: May 5th, 2008, 11:35 pm

Re: The age of consent?

#4 Post by Jumile » May 13th, 2008, 12:20 am

Maria wrote:What really disgusted me was that [Mandy Smith's] mother encouraged [Bill Wyman's] interest and pressured her daughter into reciprocating.
The same thing happened to a family friend. When she was 11 or so she caught the attention of someone important to her father's career, and he began taking over the traditional parental entertainment role: took her to her ballet lessons, down the beach, to the movies, etc. With his wealth and carrot-on-a-stick potential for the father's career, her parents encouraged the relationship - even when they saw signs that all was not as it should be. He wasn't blatantly open about what he was doing but the signs were there for everyone to see, and the daughter was visibly affected and repulsed by it all, but the parents still kept nudging her at the man.

It's astonishing what greedy, ambitious people will do - or allow other people to do - to their children when the dollar signs are flashing in their eyes. Well, I think the recent situation with Shannon Matthews underlines the point.
Matt
Crusade, n.: A war fought to determine whose imaginary friend is better. :)

Occam
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Joined: April 6th, 2008, 6:37 pm

Re: The age of consent?

#5 Post by Occam » May 13th, 2008, 1:54 am

While most of these cases deal with an adult male and a much younger female, in the U.S. recently there have been a spate of cases where a young female school teacher was found having a sexual relationship with a male student. In reading the news stories about them I've been struck that the adult female was obviously emotionally immature, and the boy was sexually skilled and quite aware of techniques of seduction.

I realize that it would never be possible, but I think the most rational way to deal with this is to give everyone periodic tests of their emotional maturity and make it illegal for anyone to have a sexual relationship with anyone who was less than, say, 80% of their maturity level.

This would mean that a fifteen year old boy who had an EMA of, say, 24, would be breaking the law if he had a sexual relationship with a twenty-five year old teacher who had an EMA of less than 19.2.

Another example would be two people, both chronologically 25. If the female has an EMA of 30 and the male an EMA of 22, she couldn't have a sexual relationship with him.

Occam

DougS
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:48 am

Re: The age of consent?

#6 Post by DougS » May 13th, 2008, 10:55 pm

What was the name of the film starring Cate Blanchette and Judi Dench (based on a novel, I think) where she played a teacher having an affair with a 15 year old student? They came across as of a similar level of maturity, IIRC, but I wasn't sorry to see her ruined professionally by the experience. I just don't believe it's that difficult for a teacher to keep their hands off their students. I don't necessarily think they should be prosecuted though.

From the Herald:
Under the law, the age of consent is 16, but there are special rules which apply to a girl under 13, and if two consenting 15-year-olds were to have sex, the boy, but not the girl, could be prosecuted in a criminal court if referred to the SCRA.
My bold - what a dumb law. :puzzled:

The proposals are that it would be statutory rape to have sex with a boy or girl under the age of 13 and concerns about consenting sex between vulnerable 13 to 15-year-olds could be referred to the SCRA. The paper makes it clear adults over the age of 16 would be, as now, committing an offence for sexual activity with a child under the age of 16.
I kind of see the point here but....a couple aged 13 and 14 respectively start having consenting sex, which continues when they are 14 and 15 respectively but once the older one turns 16 they have to stop for a while because that would be an offence?

Occam
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Re: The age of consent?

#7 Post by Occam » May 14th, 2008, 1:17 am

Doug, you raise an important point that I neglected in my prior post. That is, that the people must be in relatively similar power positions. It's very easy for a boss, teacher, minister, etc. to coerce the other person, even if s/he doesn't try to do so.

While I don't feel that a politician's sexual activities should impact on people's judgement of his/her ability to conduct political work, there is a problem. I'd guess that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski had equivalent emotional sexual maturity, however, the disparity in power positions was so great that Lewinski would consider it a great honor and privilege to perform fellatio on him. It was his responsibility to refuse her request.

Occam

Noggin
Posts: 497
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 11:48 am

Re: The age of consent?

#8 Post by Noggin » May 15th, 2008, 10:11 pm

The novel and film you're thinking of is 'Notes on a Scandal', Doug, and I agree with your sentiments. As Occam says, it comes down to a question of power.

The proposal is to 'decriminalise' underage sex, which sounds fair enough to me. The idea that sex between consenting teenagers should be a criminal act seems patently ridiculous even if one is over 16 and the other still technically a minor. I'm in favour of keeping the age of consent at 16, however, to afford some protection to people like the under-age Mandy Smith.

I've just been watching the programme on Britain's youngest grannies. Why is that the daughters of teenage mothers are three times more likely to become teenage mothers themselves. Anybody know?
It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man. -- Old Norse Proverb

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Curtains
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Re: The age of consent?

#9 Post by Curtains » May 16th, 2008, 5:27 pm

Maybe they've had the kind of upbringing that has narrowed their horizons. It may have been a very happy childhood in a close family but their main role model is someone who became a young mother herself.

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Alan H
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Re: The age of consent?

#10 Post by Alan H » May 18th, 2008, 12:48 am

In today's Sunday Herald:
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Ministers Wont Change Law On Underage Sex (from Sunday Herald)
http://www.sundayherald.com/news/herald ... ge_sex.php
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ministers ‘won’t change law on underage sex’
Decriminalising ‘would give youngsters wrong signal’ By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Politcal Editor
Comment

SCOTTISH MINISTERS will not back a controversial proposal to decriminalise underage sex for 13 to 15-year-olds, the Sunday Herald has been told.

The SNP government believes the plan would send out "the wrong signal" to young people who were considering having sex.

However, a source close to the first minister, Alex Salmond, said it did not necessarily follow that the under-16s group should be punished for breaking the law.
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The recommendation on underage sex is contained within the Scottish Law Commission's (SLC) draft legislation on rape and other sexual offences.

A consultation on the document has led to a number of respondents focusing on the plan to decriminalise sex between 13 to 15-year-olds.

Children's commissioner Kathleen Marshall, Victim Support Scotland and Barnado's support the move, while church groups and Rape Crisis Scotland are opposed to changing the law.

The Scottish Cabinet discussed the issue in depth last week and, while a range of views were said to have been expressed, ministers are highly unlikely to implement the SLC proposal.

The first minister is known to believe a change in the law would "send out the wrong signal", but equally he does not favour the prosecution of 15-year-olds for having consensual sex.

One source close to Salmond said: "It would be fair to say we are not going to decriminalise underage sex."

The source added: "We believe it should be possible to find a third way which will reconcile differences."

At last week's First Minister's Question Time, Salmond said: "I am confident that we can find a method of achieving our objectives. People on both sides of the debate have misgivings, but I hope and believe that we can reassure them.

"We have discussed this matter at enormous length in Cabinet and elsewhere and I believe that this parliament can find a way forward."

It is understood the government does not want its forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill to be dominated by a debate on decriminalisation, as ministers want to keep the focus on turning around Scotland's low conviction rate for rape.

A spokesman for Salmond said: "The first minister did, of course, make clear in the chamber that acting on the SLC's recommendations is not the same thing as accepting every recommendation."

He added: "Everyone involved in this debate is motivated by the interests of Scotland's young people, and we are committed to introducing a Sexual Offences Bill in June, prior to the summer recess."

[Captured: 18 May 2008 00:47:36]

###################
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The age of consent?

#11 Post by Alan H » May 18th, 2008, 1:06 pm

In today's Sunday Times:
********************************************************************************
'I don't condone sexual relations among children' - Times Online
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 953174.ece
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

'I don't condone sexual relations among children'
Kathleen Marshall has been blasted for calling for changes to sex law. But she doesn't want to lower the age of consent
Kathleen Marshall
Gillian Harris

Kathleen Marshall discovered she was at the centre of a political controversy last week when she pulled up at traffic lights and glanced at the newspaper being read in a neighbouring car. There was her picture below the headline: “Outrage as child czar opposes teen sex laws.”

The story referred to comments Marshall posted on her website in response to a consultation clarifying the law on rape and other sexual offences. Scotland's first commissioner for children and young people wrote: “I welcome the proposals to reconfigure the law on sexual offences involving children. It is right that there should be an age below which there can be absolutely no excuses or defences and such activity is recognised as simply wrong (although I make some qualification as regards children under 13). Setting that age at 13 seems reasonable.”

These Scottish Law Commission recommendations effectively advocate decriminalisation. The commission, whose proposals are expected to be rejected by the Scottish government, says children under 16 should not be prosecuted for consenting sexual activity with other children aged above 13, but may be referred to the Children's Panel where appropriate.

There are concerns about the permissive message this sends out to young people and the dangers of, say, a boy nearing his 16th birthday seducing a girl who has just turned 13. This is why Marshall's backing of the recommendations caused such upset.
Related Links

* Plan to drop age of consent rejected

Sitting in her office a few days later, however, she says she does not support a lowering of the age of consent.

“I would be horrified if someone said the age of consent should be lowered to 13. What I am saying is that I cautiously welcome proposals to take a different approach to consensual sexual activity between young people.

“It is not what we want for our children and I am not saying early sexual activity is good, but if your 15-year-old son is having a sexual relationship with his 15-year-old girlfriend, do you want him to be prosecuted? To have a criminal record? The current law says the boy is breaking the law.”

Marshall says she recognises that consensual sex under 16 can be damaging and exploitative, which is why she approves of referral to the Children's Panel where appropriate.

She acknowledges that her previous stance, in support of the status quo because the police very seldom prosecute boys for having sex with their girlfriends, was inconsistent with the existing law. “My view was that if the law ain't broke, don't fix it,” she says. Now, however, she feels the issue has been raised and it would be wrong for her not to address it.

“I felt the law was introduced to protect 13- to 16-year-olds, but is it appropriate to use these laws to punish children? I want to make clear that I am not condoning sexual relationships among children that age and I am not saying it is an acceptable norm.”

When Marshall was appointed children's commissioner by the former first minister Jack McConnell in 2004, her role was to review the law, policy and practice in relation to young people. The Scottish government had promised to put children at the heart of every piece of legislation and it was her job to ensure their views were taken into account. She came in for criticism soon after she started her £72,000-a-year job when it emerged that she planned to spend an estimated £375,000 of taxpayers' money to find out what children want.

Given that she was once director of the Scottish Child Law Centre and has worked with children for 20 years, critics argued that she should come to the role armed with that knowledge.

Today Marshall, who has one year to run on her current contract, still has her critics. With a staff of 16 and an annual budget of more than £1m, the commissioner still seems to be asking more questions than she answers. Her time in a quango has left her conversation peppered with jargon about best practice, proactive strategies and children's rights impact assessments. When it comes to explaining what the commission has actually achieved, however, this language obscures more than it enlightens.

So, in simple terms, what did the initial research reveal about what children want? “The No1 response was that children wanted more things to do,” she says. “In second place was the issue of bullying and in third they wanted safer streets. More than 50% of the responses raised issues of fear among young people.

“Bullying is a huge issue. It has got much more complex with cyber-bullying online and by text. There is the potential for bullies to exercise power not just at school but in the home, where they should feel safe.”

When it comes to sorting out the problem, however, the children's commissioner doesn't have the answers. She says the issue is being addressed by the Respect Me campaign established by the previous government to tackle bullying.

Similarly, with the complaint about lack of play facilities, she refers me to Play Scotland, a charity set up in 1998 and funded by the Scottish government that aims to create more play opportunities. The commissioner's office, meanwhile, has embarked on more research to pinpoint what is available for children by asking them to fill in a detective-style quiz about facilities in their area.

Once the results are in, Marshall hopes to establish a play strategy for Scotland, a faintly ridiculous phrase that she acknowledges provokes scepticism. “I brought it up on Newsnight Scotland and got a fairly incredulous response from Gordon Brewer,” she admits. It also sounds far too bureaucratic to be any fun.

“I want to make sure play areas are factored into planning decisions,” says Marshall. “It will take into account some of the fears that parents have about letting their children out to play.”

With an overarching remit to safeguard the rights of children in Scotland, the commissioner's practical responsibilities seem less clear. Is she, for example, involved in the fight to reduce obesity among young people? Her response is vague. She goes on to argue that an increase in things to do through play will contribute to more exercise and better health, adding that she has also supported the campaign for healthier school meals.

A scheme to introduce children's juries in the Borders, where youngsters as young as 11 accused of minor crimes such as vandalism will be judged by their peers, is another matter that falls outside her jurisdiction. Marshall, a lawyer, has heard of the plan but isn't familiar with the detail.

What about the SNP government - is it as committed as its predecessor to keeping children at the heart of legislation? “More could be done to make that a practical reality,” she says. “I have recommended that the government introduce a children's rights impact assessment on everything they do, like they have with human rights law, and that is being trialled in some areas. I think it could be used more widely. The government seems positively disposed towards the idea.”

Despite the criticisms that can be levelled, the commisioner has tackled issues of importance to children including a call for young people in care to be allowed to stay in the system until they are 18, a report highlighting the rights of children of prisoners and a study into the handling and moving of disabled children.

The commissioner also spoke out on behalf of the children of asylum seekers detained at Dungavel centre. More recently, she condemned “mosquito” devices, the high-pitched alarms used by some shopkeepers to disperse groups of teenagers.

Marshall, a mother of three grown-up children, strives to meet as many young people as possible in the course of her job and she will continue to consult the young people in whose name she is employed.

“There is so much work to be done,” she says. “Young people just want to feel safe and protected. We need to help them do that.”

[Captured: 18 May 2008 13:04:43]

###################
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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