It has been many years since I was a teenager. However, the mind is a strange thing and time, in the mind does not work within what we perceive as normal reality. Therefore, I can still remember clearly my thoughts and feelings as a young person discovering the joys of the opposite sex.
Lots of differing thoughts go through the mind of a teenager when with another person. What does the other person want? What will he or she let me do? What is safe to do? Have I been told everything I should know? What will others think? I would imagine one thing that will not be on the list is what should I be doing or not be doing by the letter of the law.
Yet as parents and others in authority contemplate the best way forward, the press reports on one horrible story after another. Many stories of 20-40 year old people having sex with under 16 year olds with many individuals even becoming pregnant, because of this.
The world teenage pregnancy rates are massively high and governments have launched a variety of measures to try to reduce them. However, in my view laws can only play a really small role in preventing teenage sex. At the end of the day if teenagers want to do it, they will.
Girls cannot lawfully have sex until they are 16. But there are even tougher rules for girls under 13. The law says that when a girl is under 13 she is not mature enough to consent to sex. So if she is just 12 and willingly has sex, the law says she has not "consented" to it because she doesn't have the maturity to know what she's doing. This means that anyone who has sex with a girl under 13 is committing "statutory rape". There is absolutely no defense for this charge even if a person says they thought the other person was older than he or she was, or that he or she wanted to have sex.
The maximum sentence for this is life, but average sentences for rape are about seven years.
However, my thoughts are more around two under 16s having sex. Currently if they did it would be illegal. However, this law is not widely enforced. Even if the law did get involved generally no one is prosecuted. Parents are in an impossible position. If they are aware of under 16s having sex they could theoretically risk being prosecuted themselves for aiding and abetting this illegal act.
This could even happen if they permitted the sex to take place in their own house, or even if they supplied them with a condom for the act.
The government's bid to reduce teenage sex is more focused on sex education and encouraging parents to talk to their children about sex. However, there is an argument that the more you push sex education the higher the instances of under age sex occur.
Some countries are interesting examples of a differing view of under age sex. Some accept that young people will become sexually active as part of their natural development and therefore talk freely and discuss issues with teenagers rather than tell them how wrong the act is.
Within countries that take this type of approach teenagers become sexually active at a later age and the teenage conception rates are very low.
My thoughts as on many issues is that we need to treat teenagers more as adults and not try to dictate to them how they should behave but attempt to advise and assist. People should try to recall their teenage years and remember the thoughts that were going on in their heads. Teenagers have a lot to cope with and need to be treated with respect. They are the future of our world. Let's not try to ruin them.