Saturday 10 December 2016

Let's grow up and accept the reality of teenage sex

We are still trying to pretend that teenagers are children when it comes to sexual activity, writes Emer O'Kelly

Published 31/07/2011 | 05:00

The law can be a very blunt instrument. Less than a generation ago, it was a criminal offence for consenting adults to engage in homosexual acts in private, and it took a lonely and at times heroic battle by David Norris to get that changed.

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But we are still struggling in the area of sexual and other rights for what are equivocally referred to as "young people". Until recently, although an 18-year-old man could be called up to kill or be killed for his country, he could not vote, nor could he engage in sexual congress with a 17-year-old girlfriend. (He got the right to vote before his love-making was decriminalised.)

When the voting age was reduced to 18, the possibility that sons and daughters might think for themselves was dismissed; the view was: "They'll do what they're told. Sure, aren't they children?"

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