That's right. It's Saturday morning and I am once more fired up by some random news article I stumbled across. Check out this story about a 14 year old boy who was charged with nine counts including statutory rape and indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14. Now those of you who know me well, you know that I am a huge advocate for sexual assault laws, sex offender regulation and much more. And I know that our law allows for little "gray" in some areas so that it can protect us from legal professionals. But sometimes, you just have to say, "COME ON - GET REAL".
Now, let me first say that I in no way condone the thought of my (or any) 14 year-old son having sex with anyone regardless of their age. And if the day comes where I find out my son has decided to make that decision at such a young age I am pretty sure my head will spin off my shoulders and I may need to have someone restrain me so that I don't beat him senseless. BUT, do I feel that he should be charged and marked forever as a sex offender because not only he, but the girl he liked, were both dumb enough to think they were ready to make such a monumental decision? NO!
Initially, when I started reading the article, I found the opening premise to be very valid. When I worked in law enforcement, one of my roles was to oversee the sex offender registration for the city where I worked. We didn't have a lot of offenders in that city, but even those we did have were a wide variety. From the teenage boy whose girlfriend happened to be just one year younger than the law thought "okay" so when her parents filed charges he was quickly found guilty, to the just plain creepy guy who performed lude sexual acts on kids 15 years younger than him. For the latter, I say lock them up, throw away the key and let them suffer the same pain they caused others. But the former... that is where we need the gray. So when I saw this article asking why the girls were not charged as well, it did give me pause. I mean, why were they not? They were all underage and they all made the same decisions. Why is only the boy made to be punished? Is the law actually saying that because he was 14 and the girls were 12 that he should be THAT much older and wiser than them?? I mean, obviously the court has not spent much time with a 14 year old boy before.
But hold on - I am not at the height of my pissdom (yeah, that's right... I said "pissdom") yet. I kept reading the article because I love being fired up in the morning. And there, in the last paragraph of the article is where you learn how it all started. The boy's father, being a good attentive father, read the son's sexually explicit text message from (or to) one of the girls. He was obviously upset and concerned about this behavior on the part of both children. So he called the mother of the girl to talk to her about it. The mother, she calls the police and files charges!! Even the girl is quoted as saying the acts were all consensual! So there, Dad... that's what you get for paying attention to your son and trying to open the lines of communication between you and the parents of your child's friends. Someone slap this woman.
Now, because I like to imagine the best in individuals, I would like to imagine that this woman, somewhere down the road realized she had overeacted by involving the police. Of course, by that time the law had control of it and she couldn't really go back. But maybe she at least realized it. What I am saying is this... as a parent, if you are put in this situation, LISTEN to your children. If you know your children, you will know if they are lying, you will know if they are saying it was consensual out of fear of retalliation or if they really felt it was. No child at the age of 12 can truly "consent" - I know that. But I also know that today, sex is cool. Kids are talking about sex, dressing sexy, taking sexy pictures, and some of them are actually having sex. You have got to get in there and intervene. Distract them. Hell, keep them so busy they don't have time to have sex. I don't know what the perfect answer is, all I know is that ruining a child's life by having him labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his life is not teaching him anything. Make him babysit everyday after school and all weekend to show him what it is like to be a parent at 14. That will teach him something.