The French Debate an Age of Consent for Sex

 

It turns out that France does not have a minimum age for consensual sex, a fact that might explain why so few of their sons use Ritalin. As the nation prepares to set an age of consent for sex, French compatriots argue over the age passionately. One judge faced protests for suggesting that that age of consent should be 13. The feminist protesters want the age of consent to be 15. I guess it all depends on how literally we should take the standard, “Today, I am a man” bar mitzvah speech. These days, the mere suggestion that teens might have urges freaks people out, but there was a time when such desires were the topic of cheerful music videos like the one below:

Now that we’ve got the pearl clutching out of the way, let’s talk statistics. The USA’s Center for Disease Control keeps track of the sexual behavior of high school students.┬áTheir 2015 statistics on 9th graders, who tend to be 14 years old, show that 27.3% of the boys and 20.7% of the girls were not virgins. If French teens behave similarly, then setting the age of consent to 15 without including a Romeo and Juliet clause would mean that one in four French teens would be statutory rape victims by the time they enter college.

I can see how biological differences and the power imbalance between a minor and an adult can justify age of consent laws, but they must be written carefully to avoid sending kids to jail in the name protecting kids. About half of Americans loose their virginity before becoming 18, which makes sex a normal teenage activity. It doesn’t matter if the age of consent is 13 or 15 in France. Including a Romeo and Juliet clause is the most import thing so the nation does not criminalize a natural part of teenage life. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let them on Facebook before they are 16.

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