Adults having sex with children is considered one of the most heinous crimes. The rape of a child causes significant trauma and physical harm. However consensual sex with children, which may not even be penetrative, is a grey area. In order for something to be justifiably criminalized it must be harmful, for this reason homosexuality has been decriminalized. There are several factors which need to be discussed when deciding if pedophilia is intrinsically harmful.Age of consent
Ages of consent are arbitrary and differ across nations. In Italy a 40 year old can legally have sex with a 14 year old, whilst in California a 20 year old having sex with his 17 year old girlfriend is committing statutory rape. The problem with an age of consent is that it doesn't allow for exceptions: young people are criminalized for having consensual sex whilst vulnerable teenagers over the age of consent are unprotected. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that sex before a certain age is intrinsically harmful.Taboo and morality
How society views sex is important, sexual ethics are subjective and ever changing. Sexual taboos exist in every culture and cause individuals to feel shame, guilt and other powerful emotions. These taboos are often unjustified, such as the taboo against interracial sex. Whilst sex with children is taboo in western cultures it has been, and still is, acceptable in some parts of the world. Recently the west has imposed it's sexual ethics on the Pitcairn Islands where children routinely have sex with adults. One woman told reporters:"I was 13 ... I felt like a big lady. I wanted it"
What right do we have to impose our laws on these people? In the West parents can feed their kids junk food and raise them with religious beliefs, why should they not also be allowed to decide on how the child develops sexually?APA (American Psychiatric Association)
The APA conducted 59 studies
on college students. They discovered that two-thrids of sexually abused men and more than one-quarter of sexually abused women "reported neutral or positive reactions.
" They concluded that the negative effects of child sexual abuse "were neither pervasive nor typically intense".
In the Psychological Bulletin
(1998, vol. 124) the American Psychiatric Association stated:"Childhood sexual abuse is on average, only slightly associated with psychological harm--and that the harm may not be due to the sexual experience, but to the negative family factors in the children's backgrounds. When the sexual contact is not coerced...it may not be harmful at all.
" The APA also states that abuse "may only constitute a violation of social norms.".
Prior to the late 20th century much of the research on pedophilia was based on data from clinical populations, i.e., people who sought help for existing emotional/psychological problems. The APA concludes that "the inevitable result was that the pervasiveness of harm was greatly exaggerated, since only those who perceived themselves as needing treatment were included."
What are your opinions of consensual sex with children and teenagers?