In sentencing a high school teacher to 30 days in jail for a sexual “relationship” with a 13-year-old student, Montana Judge Todd Baugh’s commented that this was not a “forcible beat-up rape” and that the young teen was “…as much in control of the situation” as the 54 year-old teacher.
While the Judge’s comments have generally received much criticism, there remains a sense that sex between teens and adults may not always be harmful. Adam Sandler’s 2013 movie “That’s My Boy” was a comedy based upon the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old by his teacher. The movie was promoted with the tag line that “….everyone has a teenage crush….Donny’s went a little too far.”
I don’t understand what is humorous about statutory rape. There is also a double standard when it comes to this issue, well demonstrated in the movie. When it is revealed that Donny’s teacher is pregnant, he smiles with pride as he is congratulated with “high fives” by his guy friends.
There are lots of good reasons why we protect our young teens from sex with older individuals. The scientific literature is clear that such relationships are unhealthy for our kids. Here are of the latest findings from the Child Trends Data Bank that studied the sexual experiences of young adults 18 to 24 years of age.
“Ten percent of females and six percent of males reported that their first sexual experience occurred at age 15 or younger with an individual who was three or more years older than they were (“statutory rape”).” Most of these kids never revealed this relationship for fear of getting their sexual partner into trouble.
These are not good relationships for our kids. Girls who have sex with older guys are more likely to be diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases and become pregnant. In comparison with girls who have sex with kids their own age, having sex with an older guy is associated with greater mental health problems and substance abuse for these young women.
These young girls are about three times more likely to come from single-parent families or from families with a biological and non-biological parent. The parents of these girls are five times less likely to have graduated from high school. The profile is clear that disadvantaged families raise girls who are vulnerable to sexual manipulation by older guys. A similar profile also exists for young boys who have sex with older women.
The profile of the older partners who are sexually active with our kids is very disturbing. Older guys are more likely to have criminal records and little education. Older women having sex with our boys are more likely to have serious emotional problems.
The 13-year-old child victim in the Montana committed suicide. Let’s continue to strongly enforce the statutory rape laws for the sake of our kids.