Statutory Sexual Assault and Age of Consent – Yes

Age of Consent in Pennsylvania: Statutory Sexual Assault

            In the State of Pennsylvania, the statute Title 18, §3122.1 statutory sexual assault states any person who “commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages n sexual intercourse with a complainant under the age of 16 years and that person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other, (Pennsylvania State Laws, 2010),” would be considered an individual committing statutory rape. This makes the age of consent in Pennsylvania sixteen years old.

            In my opinion, this age is too low. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen is usually the time when females are learning who they are as individuals and teenagers. They are becoming young ladies through the phase of puberty and are very likely to succumb to peer pressure and misguidance. There are 34 states in the United States who have set the consenting age at sixteen (U.S. Dept. of HHS, 2002). Allowing a sixteen year old to authorize consent to sex, in my opinion, is not a good idea and should be changed. 

            Being that statutory rape is defined as “having sex with minors, (Samaha, 2008, 346),” I believe the age of consent should be raised to eighteen years old, unless the sixteen year old has been emancipated through the courts. If emancipation has taken place, at this time, the emancipated juvenile is now deemed an adult and is responsible for any and all actions they choose to make during their lifetime.

            In Glasgow near Europe, due to the high pregnancy rate in that region of the world, an academic lecturer in sociology believes that the age of consent should be lowered to 14 from 16. Dr. Matthew Waites believes that holding the age of consent at 16 is not appropriate because “16 out of 17 of the wealthiest countries have the data of between 15 percent and 28 percent of young people had had sex by the age of 15. For the UK, the figure was 40 percent, (Womack, S., 2007).” Due to this data, he believes it does not make sense to keep the age of consent at sixteen.

            I believe this is accurate and Dr. Waite’s perception does make a lot of sense, but I also think that by changing the age, there will be an increase in teenage pregnancies unless the teens are educated regularly about pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases, and all that incorporates sexual assault. The age should be set at 18 years old and until the minor is considered an adult by law, all penalties should be equally given to both male and females. Teenage pregnancy has become a major epidemic all across the world and laws must be set in place to show that these minors are still children. 16 years old is not an age to be making life changing decisions.