What is the Legal Age of Consent?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2020
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The legal age of consent is the age at which one is legally considered capable of consenting to participation in sexual activities. In some legal systems, such as that of the European Union, this is referred to as the legal age for sexual activities. Engaging in sexual activities with individuals who have not reached such an age is generally considered to be against the law. This is because such younger individuals are not considered capable of making rational and mature decisions concerning their sexuality. The law seeks to protect them from those who would take advantage of their naivety and manipulate them into sexual activities.

There are many laws related to the legal age of offense. Most importantly, an individual may not have sex with someone who is below the age of consent. In some legal systems, such as that in the United States, having sex with an individual below the age of consent is considered to be a form of rape and can be punished as such. There also are laws in places where prostitution is legal that set age restrictions for engaging in such activity. Also, one who is below the legal age of consent is typically not legally allowed to participate in or view pornography.


Individual legal systems sometimes define terms differently and make exceptions to what sexual activities are and are not acceptable with those below the legal age of consent. For instance, punishable sexual activity can be considered as simple as kissing or petting under some legal systems. In other legal systems, full sexual intercourse is the only act that one cannot legally engage in with someone who is below the legal age.

In some places, the legal age of marriage is lower than that of consent. Sexual activity within marriage is, in these cases, permissible. An exception is also made when an individual below the age of consent rapes an older individual; the older individual is not punished. In some systems, people of reasonably similar ages below or near the age of consent, such as a 16 year old and a 17 year old, can legally engage in sexual activities. Occasionally, the laws applied to homosexual couples are different from those applied to heterosexual couples.

The specific ages of consent vary somewhat based on jurisdiction, gender, and sexuality. Most countries have an age of consent ranging from 15 to 18 years of age. In some countries, however, the age of consent is as low as 12 or 13 years of age. The legal age of consent for homosexual activities, if such activities are legal at all, is often higher than the age for heterosexual acts.


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Post 6

How many people may be on S.O.R who were, in fact, intimidated sexually by a minor but were charged just the same? This statement of law does not make sense, nor do the laws governing most of the USA with age requirements and/or S.O.R.

"An exception is also made when an individual below the age of consent rapes an older individual; the older individual is not punished". This statement is incorrect. They have always seen the elder as being at fault, no matter how old -- one year to 20 years,

but yet they allow 14 year olds to marry and that's not considered rape? Because of a piece of paper? They’re old enough and understand meaning of marriage and "understand

the meaning of consent of sex in marriage at 14," but don't understand it at 14 if they are not marrying? All because of a piece of paper? Man, I have heard almost everything now! Are you kidding me?

If this is the case, you have a lot of folks on SOR who shouldn't even be on it! To say it's OK for a 14 year old to have sex because they are married is OK, all because of a piece of paper? But if they’re not married, it is an act of rape even if they consent to it?

As far as them making any type of sexual movement or anything sexual they are never, never considered the culprit. How many lives are ruined because of this mud hole we call law?

Take a look at the judge who did rule in favor of one guy who stated the female who was underage and came after him for sex and basically molested him. The DA said it was rape because she was underage. The Judge saw at age 14 a female’s hormones are at work in some situations and are higher then a 21 year olds and in a lot of cases, they seem to know more then a 21 year old.

I have a daughter and several nieces. All have openly stated they started having sex at 13 and 14 years old because they wanted to and stated it was an urge for them. They are all now over age of 21, and some are into their 60s now. It wasn't rape to them; it's something they wished to do of their own accord.

But how can you say that a piece of paper, namely, a marriage license, mandates what is rape and what is not "with consent" of one who is under legal age?

Numerous states within the USA allow underage marriage at ages of 13 and 14 years old.

So does this mean if one is of age and one is underage and they wish to have sex, the one who is underage signs a letter of consent and gets it notarized (which becomes basically a legal document) stating the elder has the right to have sex with her due to this legal, binding document?

A lot of laws in this country are a joke. Some have led voters to believe the government is doing something to protect them by scaring them to believe otherwise, when in fact, it is double talking -- doing one thing and saying something else! I mean, seriously?

What’s wrong with this picture? You can’t do it this way. If you do it's rape, but if you sign this paper then you can do it and it’s not rape? I mean, hello?

If that's the case, that leaves S.O.R to the repeated pedophiles out there and allow the others to resume some type of normal life!

Post 5

I am wanting to know if I can move out of my parents' home. I am 17 and getting ready to graduate in may. I will turn 18 in July but I don't think I can wait due to the people I live with. I am from Ohio.

Post 3

That's so weird that the legal age of consent is different for homosexual couples than heterosexual couples. I can sort of kind of understand where the logic behind that comes from, but still -- that' just weird.

Post 2

What is the legal age of consent in Canada?

Post 1

I think it's really interesting how the legal age of consent in the USA is different from that of other countries. For example, the legal age of consent in France is 15, and the legal age of sexual consent in Japan is 13!

I don't really have an opinion as to which one is better, but it's just interesting to see the differences.

I would have never thought to even research it except I had to write this paper on the youngest legal age of consent -- that's when I started noticing all the differences.

Interesting world we live in...

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