Hi. I have a problem with my boyfriend ... or ex-boyfriend ... or what ever I can call him due to legal reasons. I'm sure you are confused by "legal reasons." You see he currently turned 18, and I am 14. When my mum and dad saw that I was in a conversation with him they flipped and scared him into no longer talking to me. He tells me that it's because of the law and that he would if he could. I just want to help him in any way at all but cant. Do you think you can give me any advice?
From, a saddened, little fox
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Dear Little Fox,
Well, there are legal issues about this situation—something called the “age of consent.” The age of consent is a legal term meaning there is a certain age that, if you are below that age and someone has sex with you, it is considered a crime, often punishable by imprisonment. You wouldn’t be imprisoned, but the older guy could be.
Most states have a legal age of 18. There are a few where it is 17 or 16, but you, being 14, would fall below legal age in all 50 states. Furthermore, even if, say, you were 17 in a state that defined age of consent as 16, you could get in trouble with federal law, which says it is 18. This means that if you and he were in separate states and communicated sexual messages (photos or text with sexual content), it could be considered illegal. What is even MORE complicated is that even if you were both in the same state and that state allowed the age of consent to be 16, but the server which helped to transmit an email or other electronic message was in another state, that would be considered interstate activity and, again, there would be trouble with the feds. Lastly, it is a federal crime for an adult to take a minor to another state in order to have sex with him or her.
For you, though, it is less complicated because you are definitely under legal age anywhere in the United States. So, your parents are right about the legal complications. I would suspect, though, that their concerns aren’t just about legalities, but more about the fact that you are really too young to have a boyfriend who is 18 or older. You might think, hey, it’s only 4 years, but the difference between a 14 year old and an 18 year old is quite profound when it comes to both sexuality and maturity. These are the years when those things are developing, and you really have quite a way to go before you are considered an adult (this is very different from, say, a 20 year old having a relationship with a 24 year old).
Now, you might protest that you weren't thinking about sex in your case, but, honestly, any relationship that is on a level above mere friendship is bound to, sooner or later, have a sexual component, even if it doesn't involve rounding all the bases and heading for home plate.
Little Fox, I know our modern American society is pushing you to be an adult already, and also pressuring you to have sex, but Papabear says you have plenty of time for all that. Enjoy being 14 and hang out with people your own age for a while longer. The same advice goes to your would-be boyfriend, who should really be looking for clothes that fit in the age-appropriate section of the department store.
Hon, please take Papabear’s advice. It might not seem like it, but sometimes your parents do give you wise advice, and in this case I would agree with them.
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