A very disturbing trend has taken over in the United States. Normal teenage behavior is now a sex crime in far too many states. Overzealous behavior on the part of law enforcement is responsible for part of the problem. Law enforcement is not the only problem though. Teens become targets when prosecuted under ridiculous state laws. For instance, a 17-year-old boy that has consensual sex with a 16 year-old girl results in juvenile sex offense charges in the state of Illinois. Is that unusual behavior for a 16 and 17-year-old couple? It is not by old standards, but it is by today's standards.
Most parents agree that laws to protect children from sexual predators are necessary. The definition of a sexual predator needs quite a bit of tweaking though. The definition of these two words is so vague and easy to abuse that all teens could find themselves in the position of defending normal teen behavior. It is not that parents want their children having consensual sex. In fact, most parents prefer to believe their children are virgins until they get married. It is not realistic to believe that teens are not going to have sex. That is a personal matter between the teens and their parents. It does not require state laws or legislation.
Fathers have a special bond with their teenage boys. It is, therefore, important for fathers to understand the implications their sons face if they have sex, consensual or not. Fathers must play a more pivotal role in their son's lives concerning sex.
Two Disturbing Cases in the United States
Greensburg, PA- Six students (three girls and three boys) faced juvenile sex offense charges in January of 2009. The girls snapped nude photos of themselves and sent them to the boys. Charges on the girls included distributing child pornography. Charges on the boys included receiving child pornography. The students, if found guilty, must register as juvenile sex offenders in the state for a minimum of ten years.
Bloomfield, IL- Five boys and men faced sex offense charges for consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl. The defendant's ages ranged from 14-years-old to 20-years-old. In the state of Illinois, it is illegal to engage in sex with anyone under the age of sixteen. Never mind the fact that at least one defendant was also under the age of sixteen. This falls under statutory rape laws (consensual sex with a minor). Wishing to avoid placement on a sex offender list, the defendants signed a plea agreement. One year later, the defendants received notification of placement on the sex offender registry. One defendant, Justin Fawcett, committed suicide after becoming distraught by this fact. Keep in mind that girl seduced each of these boys, at different times, to have sex with her. She then wrote about each encounter in her diary, apparently trying to collect as many boys as she could. This occurred in February of 2004.
The list goes on and on with similar cases. In Florida, a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy recorded themselves having sex. They became defendants, arrested on juvenile sex charges. In Illinois, a teen boy asked a girl if she wanted a ride. She did not accept the offer. Her younger sister was with her. Police arrested him on juvenile sex offense charges.
The intent of the original laws was to protect children. Instead, the laws make children the criminal. Since the laws are doing the opposite of their intention, fathers must arm themselves and their sons to protect them from the label of juvenile sex offender for having a girlfriend one year younger than he is or offering a ride to someone.
How Fathers can make a Difference:
Help change the laws concerning juvenile sexual offenses. Consensual sex should never label someone a juvenile sex offender for the rest of their lives. Contact local, state and federal representatives. Let them know that the laws must change.
Know what the laws in your state are. Fathers should be aware of what the laws currently are. Fathers should also take a very serious role in educating their sons on the laws. Teen boys need to know the very real implications of breaking these laws. Teen boys have to understand that the consequences of simple behaviors can lead to arrest and conviction.
A father must keep an open line of communication between him and his son. Make your son aware that he is free to discuss sexual issues that may result in imprisonment and placement on a juvenile sex offenders list. This is essential to stopping the overzealous law enforcement officials from charging teen boys for ridiculous reasons.
Differentiate between consensual sex and rape. Media and prosecutors make it difficult for teenage boys to understand that there is a difference between the two. Is it ever okay to have sex? When is it okay to have sex? Although this will not change the laws, it will give teenage boys a better understanding of what a healthy sexual relationship is supposed to be.
In the 1980's, a mass hysteria occurred over child sex abuse in Kern County, California. Many people will remember the child sex accusations made against two sets of parents. The children of both parents testified, stating their parents sexually abused them in a sex ring. Thirty-six men and women went to jail after sixty children testified with vivid descriptions of horrible sexual abuse. The convictions did not stand up in the appeals process for thirty-four of the defendants. They are now free, but with a price. This mass hysteria destroyed their lives. The same behavior appears to be occurring as a growing phenomenon throughout the United States today. This time, the focus is on normal behavior of teenage boys.
None of the "victims" in these teen "sex crime" cases pursued charges against the "perpetrator".
Many of the "victims" were the actual "perpetrator" in the case.
Of those that were not, consensual sex became a crime in which prosecutors and the media played on.
In one case, the teen boy did not touch the girl or her sister. He is on a juvenile sex offender list for offering a ride.
None of the "victims" parents wished to press any charges on the "offender."
The media plays the game as well as prosecutors. It is a money machine of sorts. The big stories that make front-page headlines rake in the cash. Prosecutors build careers on huge cases just like these. The two work together like a well-oiled machine. One pushes the issue beyond reasonable bounds. The other alerts the public of the horrible crimes. Sadly, the public buys into it and the mass hysteria begins. Could this be another Salem witch-hunt? If so, teen boys will pay the ultimate price. It has already occurred. Justin Fawcett took his own life because of it.
Fathers have a great deal of power in these situations. They can make the difference by contacting representatives and speaking out. Insist on amendment of juvenile sex offender laws to exclude the arrest of teenage boys for offering rides to teenage girls or having consensual sex with someone a year younger.
copyright (c) 2011 FatherMag.com
About the author
Dawn is a freelance writer who resides in Maryland. She writes for several knowledge based websites as well as FatherMag.com. She left her full-time accounting career in order to fulfill her dream to write and work from home.