Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Don't turn teens into criminals

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I was also one of those who used to think that increasing the age of consent to 18 was a good thing, but, for some time now, I have had a change of heart. The proposed changes that I hear coming from the Children's Advocate for the increase in the age of consent doesn't sound coherent.

I fully agree with laws that criminalise adults having sex with children under the proposed new age of consent. I also fully support laws to criminalise adults who use pictures and other means to get sex from underage children. Indeed, I support any law that criminalises any inappropriate contact between underage children and adults. However, I don't support laws to criminalise these same contacts between consenting underage children.

While I suspect that most of us would not want our young people under the new proposed age of consent to engage in any sexual activity, we must understand that we live in the real world. The truth of the matter is that these children are having sex with each other. It is frightening that we should even consider sending children who have consenting sex with each other to prison.

The proposed alternative to those children who are caught engaged in such activities to avoid a criminal record, which includes a requirement for these young people to promise to be monogamous and faithful to each other and a host of other things, sound ways too complicated.

It's best to deal with this problem through education. Many of our schools already have programmes that are designed to discourage our underage teenagers from engaging in such activities. I think we should do all we can to strengthen such programmes, instead of imposing chastity-belt like programmes that won't work anyway.