What Is Statutory Rape? When An Age Difference Matters In A Relationship

Today, I read a comment on one of our older posts that really alarmed me. Instead of explaining the entire situation to you guys, I think it’s easier to post the comment here. Since it’s a pretty long comment, I took out a few parts and left what I felt was most important in regards to this post.

“I am 19 and I have a baby sis who is just turning 13. I have a really good friend, Dave, who is 21. I know what I am going to say is going to raise eyebrows, but I know what it is like to be 13 and going through that phase when you adore someone and want to be close. I lost my virginity when I was 11 to a guy who was our neighbor and was studying for his Masters then. I adored him and though I was scared at first, I never once regretted losing my virginity to him. It was so loving and emotional and I always dream about that special time I had with him. Secretly, in my heart, I wished my sister would hook up with Dave. 

Last weekend, I left them alone together as I had a course to attend. When I came back a few days later, I went to her room while she was in the toilet to see if there were any telltale signs of any intimacy. I looked under the bed and I found a whole heap of used condoms. LOL. The numerous condoms would suggest that they must have been at it like rats. LOL. I am sure they must have enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought to myself, what better person than Dave to have lost her virginity to.” 

Most of the comments that were left in response to this are equally as disturbing. It seems that most of the girls who commented feel that this situation is totally fine – cute, adorable and romantic, even. But it’s not fine at all. Here is the issue with this story: Dave, at 21-years-old, legally cannot have sex with a 13-year-old girl because of something called statutory rape.

What is statutory rape? While the law varies from state-to-state, the general definition is this: “sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age. The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex.”

Like I said, what constitutes statutory rape is different for each state. In New York, for example, it is considered third-degree rape for anyone age 21 or older to have sex with someone under age 17 (which is what Dave would be charged with if he lived in NY). In Arizona, for example, it is considered statutory rape if anyone over the age of 18 has sex with someone under the age of 18. If you’d like to see a complete list, you can check it out here.

It’s safe to say, though, that in any state, a 21-year-old having sex with a 12- or 13-year-old girl is considered statutory rape.

Judging from the comment responses I read in that old post, it seems like some of you think that statutory rape isn’t really a big deal. Some girls said that you can’t judge love, that age doesn’t matter when it comes to relationships. When one girl called this out as statutory rape, another girl called her “frigid.”

Listen up, girls: statutory rape is a big deal… a huge deal. It is not in any way okay. This story isn’t romantic, sweet and nice… this story is sad, horrible and disturbing. The fact that a 21-year-old adult man would have sex with a barely 13-year-old teenage girl is not acceptable.

I understand, more than most people, when some of you say that age shouldn’t matter when it comes to relationships. I once dated a guy nine years older than me (I was over the age of 18). My boyfriend is three years younger than me. But here’s the difference between my relationship and the one Dave and this girl had: my boyfriend may be younger than me, but we’re both consenting adults. Dave is a consenting adult, but the girl is most definitely not.

Regardless of whether or not this girl had a crush on Dave, she was taken advantage of. At the age of 12-years-old, she is not yet in a position where she can make the very best judgments about sex. Dave, however, at 21-years-old, is… or he should be. Dave is an adult man who should know better than to have sex with a young girl. It’s normal for a young girl to have a crush on an older guy. It happens all the time! It is not normal, however, for that older guy to act on those feelings. Honestly, it’s disgusting, creepy and, oh yeah, illegal.

age of consent

There is a reason this exists. | Source: ShutterStock

Explaining why statutory rape is wrong without sounding condescending is difficult. I’m not saying that a 12-year-old girl should never have sex because she isn’t mature enough yet to make that decision. I’m saying that an adult man should know better than to have sex with a girl who is that young. The older person, whether it’s a man or woman, is in the wrong in these situations because they are taking advantage of someone who has not yet reached the age of consent. Just because the younger person may agree to having sex or even initiate the hookup doesn’t mean the older person has the right to do it.

Think of it this way: if you were 21-years-old or older, could you imagine having sex with a person in middle school? Or a freshman in high school? Doesn’t that sound incredibly creepy?

Again, I’m not saying that all age differences are wrong. I obviously do not think that, judging by my past and present dating experiences. I totally get that you don’t have to be the same age to understand and love another person. But I also get that it’s wrong for an adult to take advantage of a minor, especially in a sexual way. When you have a crush on someone, especially when you’re a teen girl, it’s a consuming, obsessive feeling. It’s enough to make you want to do anything for that person. And an older guy? He knows that and he takes advantage of that, even though he knows, in the back of his mind, that you may not be ready.

This is why statutory rape is not okay. It’s not a law that is old-fashioned or “frigid” or “boring.” It’s a law that is there to protect young teens from getting themselves into a situation they may end up regretting because an older person knew how to manipulate them. If you’re legally considered a minor and you have a crush on an older guy, wait until you’re at the age of consent before trying anything… and then see if you still feel the same way.

How do you feel about statutory rape? What do you think of that comment – is the story sweet or wrong? Who do you agree with? Tell me in the comments.


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  • Zoey Quinn

    I have a question im 17 years old and my boyfriend is 3 years younger if we engage in the sexual act can i be charged for rape?

  • Chris

    This guy took advantage of me I was 13 he was 17 turning 18 well I ended up pragent. He was verbally abusive he spread around I was a whore ect. It got so bad my mother had to move me out of town that I grew up in. Because of my age and his, he got custody of our daughter and I got whatever he decided. People didn’t see me as a victim they saw me as a whore,slut , and worthless mother. I was never taught about sex never was taught about men peroid. I am in my mid 30s now and I am still being called those things my daughter is older now she has to hear these things. I am more worried about her then me. But can someone explain why I have been and continue to be verbally abuse because of this man.

  • firelord tyler

    Okay so I have a problem here
    I am a 17 year old male and I am on this app called meetme well a few weeks ago me and my ex got into a fight so I got back on to make a friend or two and maybe find someone to date and a few weeks ago I meet this girl that just moved here to live with her cousin and she said she was 17 told me some people she met and stuff a full story so we started to chat and she sent a few pictures of her nothing bad so I said she look pretty I know I should have said something about how she looked young but I have friends that look younger than what they are so I decided not too. Well we started to flirt so I called her beautiful, gorgeous then I asked what her cousin name was and her cousin is my ex girlfriend and my ex told me she js really 13 years old and knowing this I stopped talking to her but me and my ex started to be friends again and talk so a few days ago and now she is thresting to call the cops. My question is is there any charges or anything they would have since we did not sext talk about sex or anything all I said was that she looks beautiful. Could I be charged with anything?

    • Peetey mikes

      Nope,there wasn’t any physical contact.So always say you haven’t met her in person.

  • Meredith Smith

    It’s wrong essentially because of development. They are in different stages of life, and a 13 year old is a child, whereas a 21 year old is 4 years shy of full brain development. It’s disgusting. These guys SHOULD be able to get someone their own age. Where this changes is pretty much 25-30. After that, it’s a seemingly level playing field, short of life experience.

  • J Z

    Ok at 17 I was raped by my very large, very obese 12-y.o. neighbor. At 35, I had to end a relationship gone wrong with my bf wanting to be married without any physical intimacy. Statutory laws are ignorant & fail to deal with life’s randomness.

  • Daril Lee Lev

    I say to go with your heart. Sometimes there can be a huge difference in age between soul mates, but if you truely love each other, then what happens to your body is your decision, regardless of what the law says !