Umm...

Regarding Micha's post below, one point can be elaborated.

Age of consent laws: Call me old-fashioned, but I am not convinced that the average person can consent at 14. Despite being physically ready, said average person is generally not emotionally stable enough or intellectually mature enough for that kind of encounter. The response to this is that many people that age are sexually active, to which I say that I doubt it's a good idea for most of them, even when their partners are not their teachers.

The problem is that some 14-year-olds might be adult enough to make such decisions, and it would be rather unfair to prohibit them from doing so. I suspect that in a stateless society these cases could be worked out one-by-one, but in our present situation, where one rule covers all cases, I might even say it's less bad for the age to be beyond 14 (restricting ready 14-year-olds) than for the age to be 14 or lower (making it available to the unready). The strength of this way is that marginal cases can still be negotiated.

As I said in the comments section below, I am fairly socially conservative in my personal life, so I might be biased. For instance, I didn't have any teachers like this when I was 14. Feel free to challenge me.

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I agree. I think that the

I agree. I think that the drawing of the line at puberty is a variation of the naturalistic fallacy. Now, as someone who believes in natural rights, I'm not entirely against looking to nature for cues. But sometimes we can get the wrong message by looking nature without enough deliberation. There are somethings about human nature that need to be restrained.

At puberty we become biological adults. And every 14-year-old boy knows, at that age, nature gives an overwhelming message to start seed spreading....

But that doesn't mean we ought to listen to nature. Sex, more so than driving or voting, or drinking, has tremendous "adult consequences," from VD to unwanted pregnancies. I think 14-year-olds are just too young and irresponsible to deal with the potential consequences.

But we do have to realize that to tell a 14-year-old male teen not to have sex, is in many ways, engaging in a tremendous fight against nature.

Randall, Regarding the

Randall,

Regarding the negotiation of marginal cases, I don't understand how raising the age of consent above 14 rather than lowering it would be conducive for negotiation. No negotiation can be made, period, between an adult and a 14-year-old if the age of consent is 16. On the other hand, if the age of consent is 14, parents of a 16-year-old can still put their foot down and prevent (or at least try to prevent) their son or daughter from having a sexual relationship with an adult.

Jon,

I didn't mean to imply that it is moral or immoral for an adult to have sex with a 14-year-old so long as he or she has hit puberty. The morality of the act would depend upon the particular teenager's ability to consent, which varies from person to person. Rather, my point is that if we are going to draw an arbitrary line somewhere, knowing that whereever we draw this line, we are going to be prohibiting some people who have adult capacity and permitting some people who do not have adult capacity, then puberty seems like as good a place as any. Pre-puberty, children don't have the hormonal impulses to engage in sex, which makes abuse much more likely. Post-puberty, kids are gonna do it anyway, no law is going to stop them, and I don't see much of a difference between a post-pubecent teenager's sexual partner being another teenager of the same age or being an older adult. In either case, there are adult consequences. In fact, it seems more likely that an adult-teenage relationship would be less likely to suffer from negative consequences than a teenage-teenage relationship, precisely because at least one member of the relationship knows whats flying.

"Call me old-fashioned, but

"Call me old-fashioned, but I am not convinced that the average person can consent at 14"

Randall, I do believe you have it backwards here. It's not that you're old-fashioned that you believe this, but that you're *not* old-fashioned.

It is the new-school, post-modernist mindset that sees 13,14,15,16 yr. olds as still being children, or not responsible enough to make their own decisions. This is because the powers that be have a vested interest in childhood being extended longer and, hence, concepts of personal responsibilitly being destroyed.

Back in the old-fashioned days, these people were treated as adults. They weren't forced to be in schools they didn't want to be in. They were allowed to hold jobs and make their own decisions about their lives.

I have some other brief thoughts along these lines in the comments under Micha's post.

Micha, I meant negotiation

Micha, I meant negotiation as far as court action goes. Try getting a conviction on a college-age male when the girl is 17 and six months. It just doesn't happen.

J, you raise a good point. However, the world we live in now is not an invention, and the responsibilities formerly given to children are not (in the developed world). Human nature hasn't changed since then, but lots of other things have. I meant old-fashioned in the Victorian/1950s sense.

"But that doesn?t mean we

"But that doesn?t mean we ought to listen to nature. Sex, more so than driving or voting, or drinking, has tremendous ?adult consequences,? from VD to unwanted pregnancies. I think 14-year-olds are just too young and irresponsible to deal with the potential consequences."

Children should not be left in posession of working sexual organs, any more than they should be left in control of automobiles.

Since we can't take their sexual organs away, and imprisoning them would interfere with their education, our only reasonable choice is to make 14 year olds stop being children. Or we can do what we've been doing the last few generations and cross our fingers and hope our overgrown children happen to avoid getting into trouble. Overall that hasn't worked too well.

"J, you raise a good point. However, the world we live in now is not an invention, and the responsibilities formerly given to children are not (in the developed world). Human nature hasn?t changed since then, but lots of other things have."

Yes, lots of other things have. But they haven't all changed in optimal ways. Once, lots of children couldn't get a proper education because they were too busy working long hours. Now, there is plenty of opportunity for them to get an education, and plenty of hours for them to do it and get a modern high school education completed by age 12 or 13. Unfortunately, instead of putting those hours to good use, we squander them by leaving them huge amounts of idle time, which they sometimes spend getting into trouble, and usually spend not learning much of anything other than how to form and navigate really screwed up societies that they hopefully leave behind after we finally let them grow up. This is not necessary, and it is not desirable.

"Since we can?t take their

"Since we can?t take their sexual organs away, [...]"

Actually we can and do, I expect most people would probably be amazed by how common chemically adjusting the age of puberty has become. Far more common in girls than in boys, but far from unheard of in either instance and it's trivially easy to halt or initiate puberty exogenously (the long-term consequences being, of course, another matter). I'm sometimes surprised no one has suggested giving a GnRH agonist to all children from age ten to, say, age eighteen to prevent puberty until they're "ready", but I'm sure with enough time the educational establishment will think of it.

Myria

Myria, It seems like that

Myria,

It seems like that solution would have strong network effects, i.e. it would only work if every parent were doing it to their child. How many parents would be willing to be the first to make their 17-old boy or girl look physically like a 12-year-old among their normal looking peers?

Btw, this phenomenon does occur among gymnasts. 17-year-old female gymnasts often look much younger because extreme excercise stunts their sexual development and menstrual cycle.

Micha -- "[...] it would

Micha --

"[...] it would only work if every parent were doing it to their child."

Hopefully we aren't insane enough to start adjusting puberty on a routine basis, just the amount its done now I find a tad worrisome. But it could be done, relatively easily, if not cheaply, and given the degree to which we are chemically 'adjusting' children now, and the amount of control the state demands in that, causes me to feel like we shouldn't be all that shocked if someone were to seriously suggest it. We have hundreds of thousands of parents who happily drug up their children now, a little more probably wouldn't bother many of them -- especially if someone convinced them it'd solve all their problems.

"How many parents would be willing to be the first to make their 17-old boy or girl look physically like a 12-year-old among their normal looking peers?"

Far too many, I fear.

"Btw, this phenomenon does occur among gymnasts."

Actually it's most common amongst runners, it's just that no one seems to notice. Technically it's known as Amenorrhea, basically the LH/FSH axis goes kersplat. Close enough to what a GnRH agonist would do, yeah. The normal cycle is the hypothalamus generates GnRH (Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone) which tells the anterior adrenals to release LH (Luteinizing Hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), as well as some Progestogen production/conversion and DHEA/DHEA-S (an androgen). FSH and LH, in turn, control follicle maturation into eggs, spermatogenesis, and gonadal hormonal production. The whole thing regulates via a couple of different feedback loops, mess with any one of those, and there are a number of ways both natural and not to do that, and the whole system will shut down.

Myria