Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

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Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#1  Postby Spoonfed » Nov 04, 2011 4:50 pm

Throughout history psychologists have made some controversial claims. Until the early 20th century is was generally agreed that masturbation was harmful, resulting in male circumcision (still practised today) and even clitoridectomy. Black people were 'proven' to be mentally inferior to whites, justifying segregation and their mistreatment. Homosexuals were considered mentally ill and subjected to hormone therapy. How can we be certain that today's 'experts' are not simply justifying societies prejudices?

Despite great variation in age of consent laws (ranging from 18 in USA to 14 in Germany) most experts consider consensual sex to be inherently harmful to persons under the age of consent, even teenagers a few years below these arbitrary age based laws are considered 'victims' when they have consensual sex with adults. What evidence leads psychologists to conclude that sex is harmful to pubescent and prepubescent minors? What studies support the criminalisation of consensual sex with persons under the age of consent?

In the same way that African children labelled 'witches' start to believe they are genuinely evil, children labelled 'victims' start to believe they have been harmed i.e. a 14 year old having sex in the USA may see themselves as a 'victim' after the arrest of their adult partner and subsequent therapy sessions, while Germans of the same age might not (as 14 is legal). Clearly therapists can influence how minors view their sexual experiences.

Obviously young people need to be protected from exploitation and harm. Small children are not physically capable of having penetrative sex with adults, however not all sex acts involve penetration. In many cases sex is criminalised despite the consent of partners, use of contraception and lack of physical/mental harm. Can anyone provide me with relevant information explaining why consensual sex with minors is harmful and why? Are there only moral reasons justifying the criminalization of sex with pubescent and prepubescent minors, or does tangible evidence of harm exist?
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#2  Postby Scot Dutchy » Nov 04, 2011 5:02 pm

Did not harm me I was 15 when I met her and she 18. We had a great time. I knew for a year so it was pretty serious.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#3  Postby laklak » Nov 04, 2011 5:07 pm

Depends on the age of the minor, the age of the adult, the circumstances of the relationship, etc. There aren't any cut and dried answers. Unfortunately, the law has to draw a line somewhere and they can't look at each situation individually.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#4  Postby chairman bill » Nov 04, 2011 5:25 pm

Spoonfed wrote:Throughout history psychologists ...
... haven't actually existed. Just saying. It's a pretty recent field of study & practice.

On the substantive issue - yes, sometimes, but not always.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#5  Postby Ironclad » Nov 04, 2011 5:35 pm

Yes, legally.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#6  Postby cavarka9 » Nov 04, 2011 6:20 pm

is it possible to get consent from 5 yr old kids?. If yes, should that be allowed?. There is not much to differentiate with 18 yr old and a 17 yr old and 364 days......15yr old and 14 yr old and 364 days... In fact nature cares for no such requisites, thankfully humans decide to not leave things to nature alone but to be a decision maker, thats the law, unless you claim we have no need for it and believe it should reside on consent. Also are all 20 yr olds mature enough psychologically?.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#7  Postby Scot Dutchy » Nov 04, 2011 7:10 pm

cavarka9 wrote:is it possible to get consent from 5 yr old kids?. If yes, should that be allowed?. There is not much to differentiate with 18 yr old and a 17 yr old and 364 days......15yr old and 14 yr old and 364 days... In fact nature cares for no such requisites, thankfully humans decide to not leave things to nature alone but to be a decision maker, thats the law, unless you claim we have no need for it and believe it should reside on consent. Also are all 20 yr olds mature enough psychologically?.


Never mind 20 yr olds. There are plenty of 40 yr olds who are not mature.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#8  Postby cavarka9 » Nov 04, 2011 7:14 pm

we have law, if the minor complains then that takes over, if the minor's parents or guardians complain then that takes over unless the minor involved is of an age to give consent as per law.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#9  Postby Beatsong » Nov 04, 2011 8:03 pm

It's an interesting topic, not least because of the degree of taboo attached to even questioning it.

What evidence leads psychologists to conclude that sex is harmful to pubescent and prepubescent minors? What studies support the criminalisation of consensual sex with persons under the age of consent?


I think you are maybe mistaken about the reason for criminalisation of it.

As far as I'm aware, consensual sex with children is not criminalised because it's always harmful (I think most people understand that the degree of harm varies, and sometimes there's none). It's criminalised because the very meaning of "consent", in a legal context such as this, requires an adult to give it.

I think the idea is that sex is a very powerful and significant thing with deep and potentially devastating consequences. Emotional factors are only one of these. There is also pregnancy, which can completely change the trajectory of a person's life and severely limit the options open to them (particularly a girl), STIs and AIDS. Children are protected by law from being put in situations where they have to make decisions that could entail such consequences, because they don't yet have the knowledge or experience to make them wisely.

The law generally sees children as having a different set of rights than adults, focused more on the right to protection and less on the right to freedom. The way this works out in practice is undoubtedly imperfect and subject to certain paradoxes, but it is fundamentally based on a biological and cultural reality - that people are born without the ability to look after their own life and only acquire that ability over a certain period of time, during which they need to be protected.

As such, I think imperfect laws against child abuse that recognise their inability to give legal "consent", are better than no such laws at all.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#10  Postby Mr.Samsa » Nov 05, 2011 4:11 am

Hi Spoonfed, some errors in your initial comments:

Spoonfed wrote:Throughout history psychologists have made some controversial claims. Until the early 20th century is was generally agreed that masturbation was harmful,


Originally masturbation was viewed as a good thing and was used by nannies to help put their male charges to sleep. It was only relatively recently that the idea that masturbation was harmful came about through the political arguments presented by John Harvey Kellogg - who was a medical doctor, not a psychologist. His arguments against it largely centred around the immorality of the act (i.e. it was religious-driven, not science-driven).

Spoonfed wrote:resulting in male circumcision (still practised today) and even clitoridectomy.


Male circumcision (and especially clitoridectomies) are not done because experts advocate them these days. The science and the experts are quite clearly against such procedures, but they are done for aesthetic reasons (i.e. parents want their boys to look like their dads, or religious reasons.

Spoonfed wrote:Black people were 'proven' to be mentally inferior to whites, justifying segregation and their mistreatment.


You'll have to present some references for this. I think it's more likely that racism was used to justify segregation and their mistreatment, and science had nothing to do with it. Arguably, it was partly because of science we were able to drag ourselves out of the racist hole of the 60s.

Spoonfed wrote:Homosexuals were considered mentally ill and subjected to hormone therapy. How can we be certain that today's 'experts' are not simply justifying societies prejudices?


Homosexuality was not considered a mental disorder because of societal prejudices - it was considered a mental disorder because that was what the scientific evidence suggested. Homosexuals at the time who were visiting the clinics of psychologists and psychiatrists were often coming in with a number of mental health issues, ranging from depression to more serious psychoses, and it was therefore initially concluded to be a mental disorder. However, as evidence was continued to be collected, researchers like Hooker and Kinsey discovered that the original samples were biased (i.e. they only looked at homosexuals who came asking for help from mental health professionals), and they also demonstrated that homosexuality itself was not the cause of the mental problems that these people complained of. As such, science (once again) dragged us out of ignorance and bigotry into a world of acceptance and understanding.

Spoonfed wrote:Despite great variation in age of consent laws (ranging from 18 in USA to 14 in Germany) most experts consider consensual sex to be inherently harmful to persons under the age of consent, even teenagers a few years below these arbitrary age based laws are considered 'victims' when they have consensual sex with adults. What evidence leads psychologists to conclude that sex is harmful to pubescent and prepubescent minors? What studies support the criminalisation of consensual sex with persons under the age of consent?


Again, you're going to have to present evidence for this claim. I'm not aware of any psychologist who would even attempt to suggest that sex with minors is inherently harmful. Very few psychologists would even argue that nonconsensual sex (rape) in general is inherently harmful.

Spoonfed wrote:In the same way that African children labelled 'witches' start to believe they are genuinely evil, children labelled 'victims' start to believe they have been harmed i.e. a 14 year old having sex in the USA may see themselves as a 'victim' after the arrest of their adult partner and subsequent therapy sessions, while Germans of the same age might not (as 14 is legal). Clearly therapists can influence how minors view their sexual experiences.


They can, but they don't because they are aware of precisely how their interactions can sway their opinions of the events.

Spoonfed wrote:Obviously young people need to be protected from exploitation and harm. Small children are not physically capable of having penetrative sex with adults, however not all sex acts involve penetration. In many cases sex is criminalised despite the consent of partners, use of contraception and lack of physical/mental harm. Can anyone provide me with relevant information explaining why consensual sex with minors is harmful and why? Are there only moral reasons justifying the criminalization of sex with pubescent and prepubescent minors, or does tangible evidence of harm exist?


As Beatsong suggests, it is not illegal because it always does, or even can, cause harm. It's illegal because it is problematic to allow people to enter into contracts when they cannot give their informed consent: drunk people, mentally retarded people, etc. Allowing such people to enter into contracts leads them open to abuse, exploitation, and attacks on their general well-being. Having a concrete rule on who can and cannot give consent makes it clear who you can engage in certain activities with, and removes any ambiguity or uncertainty associated with having to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#11  Postby Spoonfed » Nov 08, 2011 9:46 pm

Thank you for your replies.

chairman bill wrote:
Spoonfed wrote:Throughout history psychologists ...
... haven't actually existed. Just saying. It's a pretty recent field of study & practice.


I meant 'experts', whether they call themselves psychologists, doctors, men of science etc.

Mr.Samsa wrote:As Beatsong suggests, it is not illegal because it always does, or even can, cause harm. It's illegal because it is problematic to allow people to enter into contracts when they cannot give their informed consent: drunk people, mentally retarded people, etc.


Why can 18 year olds consent to fight in a war or be exploited in the porn industry? Why don't we protect young adults over 18 from sexual exploitation, they are after all inexperienced in life.

Adults don't need consent from children to raise them Jewish and circumcise them, or give them junk food leading to obesity. Adults can make decisions for children.

Mr.Samsa wrote:I think it's more likely that racism was used to justify segregation and their mistreatment, and science had nothing to do with it...Homosexuality was not considered a mental disorder because of societal prejudices - it was considered a mental disorder because that was what the scientific evidence suggested.


You are naive. 'Science', especially social science, reflects the moral consensus of the time, it is inextricably linked to politics and morality.

There was no reason for homosexuality to be criminalised, gays didn't hurt anyone - but society felt it necessary to persecute these individuals because their behaviour was 'immoral' and therefore scientists concluded being gay harmful.

Mr.Samsa wrote:Hooker and Kinsey discovered that the original samples were biased (i.e. they only looked at homosexuals who came asking for help from mental health professionals), and they also demonstrated that homosexuality itself was not the cause of the mental problems that these people complained of.


Does this situation not seem analogous to that of child abuse victims?

Mr.Samsa wrote:His arguments against it largely centred around the immorality of the act (i.e. it was religious-driven, not science-driven).


Do you think pedophilia is prohibited for anything more than 'immorality'?

Beatsong wrote:
devastating consequences. Emotional factors are only one of these. There is also pregnancy,


Much of the emotional trauma comes after 'therapy'. Pregnancy and std's are easily prevented by using condoms.

Beatsong wrote:
As such, I think imperfect laws against child abuse that recognise their inability to give legal "consent", are better than no such laws at all.


Why not simply criminalise non-consensual, harmful, coercive sex? An arbitrary 'age of consent' isn't necessary.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#12  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 08, 2011 9:59 pm

Two things.

1. You have no fucking idea who you're bandying words with, do you?

2. At what age, exactly, is a child competent to give consent for this consensual sex?
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#13  Postby Macdoc » Nov 08, 2011 10:50 pm

In Canada there are gap laws in place so that 16 with a 14 year old is fine but 21+ with a 14 year old is not.

Bit more sensible - but biology will tend to over rule arbitrary "laws" so well meaning legislation may leave more victimized than protected.

Shades of Christian schools and indigenous populations.

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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#14  Postby mrjonno » Nov 08, 2011 10:56 pm

Age of consent laws should always be about protecting minors not enforcng sexual morals (religious or not). There is an age of consent of 16 in the UK but the police are given a lot of discretion in enforcing the law. It gives the option of getting involved if the police consider to be in a minor best interest, generally they won't prosecute a 15 year having sex with a 16 year old unless there is some sort of coertion. The age of consent is entirely arbitary and I think in generally it works reasonable well (1/3rd of people have sex before the age of consent or something but we don't have jails being filled)
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#15  Postby Beatsong » Nov 08, 2011 11:02 pm

Spoonfed wrote:Why can 18 year olds consent to fight in a war or be exploited in the porn industry? Why don't we protect young adults over 18 from sexual exploitation, they are after all inexperienced in life.


Because people change gradually from being children into being adults, but like anything in law there has to be a set cut-off point that is consistent for everyone, for the law to be fair. The fact that leads to a distinction between childhood and adulthood that isn't perfect doesn't mean that your alternative, of not making any such distinction, would serve society better.

Adults don't need consent from children to raise them Jewish and circumcise them, or give them junk food leading to obesity. Adults can make decisions for children.


Society entrusts PARENTS, and other people in positions of authority and trust like teachers, to make certain decisions for the children under their care. That is a completely different, in fact diammetrically opposite, thing to allowing adults who DON'T have a relationship of care, and who have a vested interest in the matter, making the decision for a child to have sex. In fact you disprove your own thesis here: the oldest and most universal taboo in existence is the one against parents fucking their own children - precisely because (apart from other reasons) we don't trust people to both look after children with the child's best interest at heart, AND seek their own sexual thrills from them. More recently in the UK, this principle has been enshrined more widely in law. The age of consent is ordinarily 16, but it's illegal for someone in a "positiion of trust" - such as a teacher who knows the child - to have sex with them before they're 18.


Beatsong wrote:
devastating consequences. Emotional factors are only one of these. There is also pregnancy,


Much of the emotional trauma comes after 'therapy'. Pregnancy and std's are easily prevented by using condoms.


1. Condoms don't prevent the spread of certain skin-to-skin transmissable infections, particularly herpes.

2. It's arrant nonsense to suggest that condoms are an absolute, simple solution to these entire problems. Condoms have certain negative effects upon sexual enjoyment, for some people so much so that sex with one is impossible or not worth the trouble. Just about everyone who has sex using one starts thinking about having sex without one. Condoms can break. Children could very well be pressured by adults to have sex without a condom, and may not even have any idea about the consequences of doing so. (Or could be talked into it, particularly if they are in love with the older person).

3. Are you actually saying "sex with minors should be legal AS LONG AS A CONDOM IS USED, EVERY SINGLE TIME, AND DOESN'T BREAK"? Because that's not what you appeared to be saying in the OP.


Beatsong wrote:
As such, I think imperfect laws against child abuse that recognise their inability to give legal "consent", are better than no such laws at all.


Why not simply criminalise non-consensual, harmful, coercive sex?


See answers upthread.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#16  Postby Mr.Samsa » Nov 09, 2011 12:56 am

Spoonfed wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:As Beatsong suggests, it is not illegal because it always does, or even can, cause harm. It's illegal because it is problematic to allow people to enter into contracts when they cannot give their informed consent: drunk people, mentally retarded people, etc.


Why can 18 year olds consent to fight in a war or be exploited in the porn industry? Why don't we protect young adults over 18 from sexual exploitation, they are after all inexperienced in life.


Because at some point we need to draw a legal line to say when someone can and cannot consent to a contract. If we have no age of consent, then no contract could ever get signed. There are real-world problems with this - do you understand?

Spoonfed wrote:Adults don't need consent from children to raise them Jewish and circumcise them, or give them junk food leading to obesity. Adults can make decisions for children.


Yes, because adults have reached that age of consent where they can make informed decisions. As they are the guardians of their children, they have to make informed decisions for them. Note that they still cannot consent to illegal things being done to their children; that is, they can't consent to their children being raped, beaten, or killed. That is child abuse.

Spoonfed wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:I think it's more likely that racism was used to justify segregation and their mistreatment, and science had nothing to do with it...Homosexuality was not considered a mental disorder because of societal prejudices - it was considered a mental disorder because that was what the scientific evidence suggested.


You are naive. 'Science', especially social science, reflects the moral consensus of the time, it is inextricably linked to politics and morality.


"Naive"? Have you even read up on this topic, studied it? Know who Hooker and Kinsey are, and why they are important in psychology? Read a fucking book and get back to me when you stop believing in childish conspiracy theories.

And extra note, psychology is not a social science - especially clinical psychology (which would be similar to calling medicine a "social science").

Spoonfed wrote:There was no reason for homosexuality to be criminalised, gays didn't hurt anyone - but society felt it necessary to persecute these individuals because their behaviour was 'immoral' and therefore scientists concluded being gay harmful.


No, scientists concluded that being gay was harmful because the vast majority of homosexuals they met were in serious mental distress. This was a time before it was acceptable to 'come out', and the average person was not aware of gay clubs, or the gay community as a whole. They thought that the ones they were meeting were representative of the overall population, and it took the work of scientists to overrule this.

Let's look at this from another angle: What, in your opinion, caused the DSM panel to remove homosexuality from the DSM? Do you think they were moved by petitions and protests? If we protested general relativity to a board of physicists, do you think they'd change their minds on that?

They were forced to change their minds due to the overwhelming evidence that was being presented which demonstrated that homosexuality was not a cause of the mental distress exhibited by the patients they had seen, and in fact the vast majority of homosexuals were leading normal, happy lives. They wouldn't have need to collect all this data and evidence if it was simply a political issue, they could have just petitioned to have it changed.

Spoonfed wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Hooker and Kinsey discovered that the original samples were biased (i.e. they only looked at homosexuals who came asking for help from mental health professionals), and they also demonstrated that homosexuality itself was not the cause of the mental problems that these people complained of.


Does this situation not seem analogous to that of child abuse victims?


No because mental health or harm is not a primary reason for making child abuse illegal.

Spoonfed wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:His arguments against it largely centred around the immorality of the act (i.e. it was religious-driven, not science-driven).


Do you think pedophilia is prohibited for anything more than 'immorality'?


Yes of course, it is prohibited for the same reason that beating up your kid, or chopping their arms off, or making them work in coal mines for 20hrs a day, is illegal. Forcing someone into a contract which they cannot comprehend or understand the implications thereof is a violation of human rights.

Look at it this way: your arguments, that children should be allowed to enter into contracts, inherently support the idea that people can convince kids to sign up to work they don't want to do, or even (if you wished) you could legally sell a blind kid a dead budgie and tell him it's just sleeping. There are reasons why these laws exist.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#17  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 16, 2011 4:30 am

Too many varied points, but I just wanted to highlight the notion that the cut off between minors and adults is really arbitrary.

It's illegal for an 18 year old to sleep with a 15 year old, even if it's minutes before they turn 16? Does some magic occur precisely when turning 16 that makes the person suddenly more accountable for their actions?

Of course, it's statistical - people reviewing maturity and decision-making have noted that 'by 16' these faculties are apparent. So yeah, not exactly cut and dry when children younger than 16 can actually be more mature and make better decisions than people over 16.

It's all in the context of each case, I would suggest.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#18  Postby Matthew Shute » Dec 19, 2011 5:38 pm

There are clearly some outright absurdities in the law. For example, in the UK you can legally consent to sex at 16 - but you can't watch people having sex (porn, for example) until you're 18. As the comedian Jimmy Carr quipped, you can have sex with somebody at 16, but you can't look down while you're doing it. Society at large may be incapable of thinking about sex in a rational way, especially with the Abrahamic "faiths" polluting any such discussion and blocking any progress. Look at the battle we had over equalising the Age of Consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex, for example.

I do think that many of the sexual relationships that get people thrown in prison are probably completely harmless before the law gets involved. 15 year olds having affairs with their teachers: standard tabloid fare. But what are these opinions when we have science? Unfortunately, even trying to study this scientifically evokes hysterical opposition and controversy.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#19  Postby Mick » Dec 22, 2011 4:45 am

There was a poster here who stated that it's a social science which reflects the values of society. That's an interesting claim. I'd commit myself to something else though I'm unsure if it is any less provocative: Psychology and medicine are value-laden. Typically when we talk about harm, dysfunction, disorder, correction, etc. we're talking about negative states or conditions, malfunctions or things which need fixing. We're implying that things aren't as they should be or supposed to be, and to that extent it's subject to philosophical debate.

If the act was consensual and no one was physically harmed in some way, I wonder if the kid would feel like a victim either then or later on in life if no one told him or her that he or she was a victim. I wonder if, at least in some cases, society has a greater role in this than the deviant adult.
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Re: Are minors who have sex with adults 'victims'?

#20  Postby Mick » Dec 22, 2011 4:55 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:

Yes of course, it is prohibited for the same reason that beating up your kid, or chopping their arms off, or making them work in coal mines for 20hrs a day, is illegal. Forcing someone into a contract which they cannot comprehend or understand the implications thereof is a violation of human rights.


I'm unsure how you're understanding the word 'contract' here though I imagine it's pretty broad if it's relevant to sex. But it seems to me that we 'force' kids into 'contracts' all the time, few of which they comprehend or understand. We force them to go to school for instance. We force them to do their homework and a hundred other similar things.
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