Sunday, 19 November 2006

Police and Paedophilia

I was kind of sympathetic to the police chief, linked to above, who said that young men who have sex with 13 year olds should not be treated as paedophiles automatically. The reason is that the maturity of 13 year old girls varies enormously. Some will actively look for relationships with older boys, and some will developmentally be 10 or 11. I know, I've taught plenty.

On the other hand, this statement:

He told the BBC the "grey area" related to situations where "the girl is 13, 14, 15 and the boy is 16, 17, 18, 19, possibly 20".

belies the seeming rationality of the view. 18-20 year olds are adults, in every possible sense of the word, and 13 year olds are not, in any sense of the word. A 20 year old having sex with a 13 year old is clearly doing it for a reason, ie that she is 13 and not 16 or 17, and is therefore a better boast, more pliable, more vulnerable, or whatever. There can be no excuse for an adult having sex with a 13 year old. A 16 year old might only be a class or so above a 14 year old, and they might both be confused teenagers, or whatever. But from 18 you acquire full legal rights, and therefore full legal responsibilities. It might be somewhat arbitrary, but then so are 30mph speed limits, and the police think people who drive at 33mph in these zones should be prosecuted. It doesn't help either that despite this great variety in mental and physical maturity, sex education and ethics education is aimed squarely at the "jocks", the ones with active sex lives, leaving everyone else to think that is what they should be doing, and there is something wrong with them if they aren't. It is causing the pressure that politicians think it will relieve.

Don't let us forget that among the many things Ian Huntley was ignored doing was having sex as a 22-23 year old with 14 and 15 year old girls.

For me at least, whole debate reminds me of where we have gone as a society:

And you say you’re protecting society and its way of life? You think this is a good way of life - your 13 year old daughter having intercourse, you friggin’ moron? So 13 is the new Barely Legal, is it? Tell me one thing a 13 year old could offer you which a hot 29 year old couldn’t? Tell me how she could sexually and socially satisfy you? Yes, exactly - no demands, does exactly what you want. And this is what we’ve come to. Stop the earth. I want to get off.
(James Higham today)

James is right that increasingly parents think they have no right to comment on their teenagers' sex lives. It is by no means unusual for teenagers to sleep together with parental consent. I am reminded of the "responsible" 16 year old interviewed a few months ago in (shock horror) the Daily Mail. she had had two abortions at 14, and for the life of her could not see she had done anything wrong, because there was no way she could be expected not to have sex given that she went to parties and met gorgeous boys. In those situations, it "just happened" - evenafter her first abortion, she still put herself in those same situations. Why? because she was a kid. And that is was kids do. So despite progressive authorities telling us teenagers can manage sex lives, in fact, all too often, they can't. She was now 16 years old and had only just started having sex again, with her new boyfriend. In tawdry, amoral stories like these, no-one emerges with any credit (least of all the boys who've had a consequence-free shag), and the child, with her postmodern ethics learned in school and through the media, has no guidance and no protection, not even from her parents. They are not encouraged to get involved, by schools, or "health authorities", and children are expected to behave like adults. Once again I make the point that I am not allowed to give a 13 year old curled up in a sick chair with a headache calpol without parental consent, but I can assist her in getting an abortion without it.

The trouble is, as James points out: when adults behave in such pathetic, cowardly ways, what else are children like the girl in that story supposed to do? Develop a protective and self-responsible ethic out of thin air?

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