The UK's president of the Faculty of Public Health has called for a national debate on lowering the age of consent from 16 to 15, arguing that, um, in case British lawmakers haven't realized it yet, lots of teenagers are having sex before they reach official consenting age, yet their status as ineligible sex-havers prevents them from seeking reliable sex advice from the country's National Health Service.
Ensuring that the most credulous members of Britain's sexually mature population have access to all the latest and greatest info and advice about sex would seem like a no-brainer, that it is, it would seem like a no-brainer, Prof. John Ashton told the BBC, if Britons would stop deluding themselves about the fact that nearly a third of all boys and girls ages 14-15 were already having sex. Said Ashton:
The problem we have in this country is we still have this fantasy about young people and we live in a world of wish-fulfilment.
They are doing it and we need to be able to support them and protect them.
The negotiation of your first adult relationship in your mid-teens some time is something that will set the record for the rest of your life.
Ashton also claimed that in countries with a lower age of consent (fast fact: the age of consent varies wildly around the world), young people actually start having sex at a later age and the rates of teen pregnancy are lower. Lowering the age of consent is, in his estimation, about coming to terms with reality, so that educators and healthcare officials don't have any excuses for not speaking candidly with younger teens about the risks of and expectations for sexual activity.
The age of consent for anyone in engaging in any kind of sexual activity in the UK is 16, and, despite Ashton's well-reasoned call for reconsidering this cut-off, Prime Minister David Cameron has shrugged off Ashton's call for a national debate, and Ashton's critics wonder whether lowering the age of consent really is the best way to ensure that teens aren't having sex in total, youth-arresting ignorance.
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