The problem I am proposing is statutory rape. I choose this topic because statutory rape is a crime and minors should be protected from sexual exploitative behaviour by adults and strict penalties taken against the defendants. Statutory rape is important to the discipline of criminal justice because the law forbids any sexual relations between adults and minors below the legal age of consent. Statutory rape is non- consensual sexual intercourse committed by an adult with an underage person below the legal age of consent. I will be focussing on the concept of age in regard to statutory rape. This is based on the fact that age differs from state to state. In most states, the lawful age of sexual consent is between the ages of 15- 18 years. In statutory rape, force and consent are not necessary for conviction. The defining factor in statutory rape is the age of the victim. Statutory rape is a crime, and the perpetrators have to go through the legal system of justice. Minors lack the capacity to provide meaningful consent to sex and should be protected against sexual exploitive behaviours by adults (Brody &. Acker, 2011).
During a criminal trial, a defendant may argue that he was unaware or mistaken about the age of the victim and is not guilty of rape. Most states, however, view statutory rape as a strict liability offence and have declined to allow defendants to raise the mistake of age defence at trial. Defendants are prosecuted regardless of their mistaken belief about the age of the victim (Carlan, Nored &. Downey, 2011). Statistics show that the majority of fathers of children born to teenage girls were adults. the United States Congress participated in the 1996 Federal Welfare reform law that urged states to enforce the law to reduce teenage pregnancies. More recent studies, however, show that majority of sexual offenders to teenage girls are teenage boys or males who are about the same age as the girls with whom they are having sex (Leitenberg &. Saltzman, 2000).
A study in 1995 revealed that 50% of teenagers in the U.S have had sex by the age of sixteen years which is a serious issue for criminal justice because the age of consent is 16 years. This according to the law is statutory rape despite the numbers of such cases rising at an alarming rate (Oberman, 2000). Leitenberg &. Saltzman (2000) in their articles used a survey of a representative sample of participating adolescent girls between the ages of 13-15 years and between 8th- 12th grades. Cocca (2002) used case studies on her research. The concepts used in the research for statutory rape as criminal offences are the increased number of teenage pregnancies and unwanted and premature sexual activities between minors and adults in many states. In recent years sexuality and statutory rape have been found to be leading in teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency. Older males impregnate young vulnerable females who give birth and then apply for public assistance. Federal and some state governments have allocated millions of dollars to step up statutory rape prosecutions. These prosecutions are used as a means to protect young mothers. .