Monday, 9 March 2009

There is whole lot a lovin' going on

Silly me, I thought it was an offence to have intercourse with girl under 16 years old. If it is an offence, then the prisons should be full.

In 2007, the rate of conception in England and Wales for underage girls increased to 8.3 per 1000 girls; up from 7.5 the previous year. The ONS estimates that 8,196 under age girls conceived last year, representing 1 in a 100 of all conceptions.

To some complacent minds, 1 in a 100 might not seem like a lot. However, the number of girls under 16 who can conceive is a comparatively small number relative to women over 16. Crudely speaking, most girls can conceive after 13, giving three available years. Women typically have 30 years to potentially conceive (16-46). I am going to take a guess and say that adjusting for the relative populations, one in ten conceptions is to a girl under 16 - ie a child.

Frankly, I don't think education is the problem here. A simple application of the law might work better. Any man over 16 who has intercourse with a child should expect to spend at least 2 years in prison. The vast majority of UK taxpayers would be happy to pay a little more to see that happen.

6 comments:

sobers said...

Thats all very well, and I don't disagree with you, but what to do with the (presumably fairly large number) of under 16 year old boys who are having sex too? Should they be locked up for 2 years as well?

I am definitely of the opinion that no child benefits should be paid to a teenage mother until she provides details of who the father is (or could be - a list -urgh!) and this is proved by DNA testing. If the father is under 18 I would make his family legally responsible to the CSA until he reaches maturity. Then its his responsibility.

Obsidian said...

It also takes two to tango - should not the girl also be punished? Plus I've always been fascinated by this 16 years benchmark - I don't recall being handed the Orb of Sexual Wisdom and Responsibility on my 16th, perhaps it got lost in the post?

And if a boy just turned 16 sleeps with his girlfriend, who is 2 days younger, is it really of interest to justice and society to march him of to the big house and label him a sex fiend from hell?

How about if his girlfriend was 16, but had a mental age of 14? Hows that better than a 14 year old with a mental age of 16?

Underage sex is a thorny issue, and one that needs a bit of common sense applying - a 17 year old sleeping with a 15 year old is million miles from a 40 year old sleeping with a 15 year old - and really, the problem here is more unprotected sex and, following from Tom Harris blog last week, the view that getting pregnant equates to getting ahead in the world.

powerman said...

Actually you're way off the mark on this one Alice.

If you're seriously suggesting that the law treat any 16 or 17 year old boy who sleeps with a 15 year old girlfriend the same as it would treat a man in his twenties or beyond grooming a 13 year old then most people would (rightly) see you as a bit barmy.

Sorry, there are less barking ways of dealing with teenage pregnancy.

Not subsidising it would be one.

aSteve said...

Until you got serious in your last paragraph, I intended to reply saying that this is sexist: Where's the score for boys under 16 who conceive (the law isn't gender specific)?

While I think your claim that one in ten conceptions is by an under-aged girl is unfounded, it is difficult to argue that the raw statistics aren't rather disturbing anyway. The thing that most worries me about this situation is that we seem to be polarising people between to extremes. On one hand, we've responsible people in their 20 and 30s who don't feel they have the security to start a family - while those with nothing whatsoever must see it (subconsciously, at least) as a strategy to gain respect (state support; a veneer of selflessness.)

It is informative to compare the procreational ages among demographics of different affluence. The phenomenon you've highlighted, in my opinion, is a clear indication of real poverty.

Anonymous said...

To some complacent minds, 1 in a 100 might not seem like a lot. However, the number of girls under 16 who can conceive is a comparatively small number relative to women over 16. Crudely speaking, most girls can conceive after 13, giving three available years. Women typically have 30 years to potentially conceive (16-46). I am going to take a guess and say that adjusting for the relative populations, one in ten conceptions is to a girl under 16 - ie a child.

This makes no sense at all. You can't say that 1/100 conceptions is to an underage girl and then ``adjust to relative populations'' and say that 1/10 conceptions is to a underage girl. If it is 1/100 then it is 1/100.

You also can't just scale 3 reproductive years vs. 30 more reproductive years without taking into account that there is not an even chance of conceiving in each year.

In fact, given that ``The ONS estimates that 8,196 under age girls conceived last year, representing 1 in a 100 of all conceptions'' and that based on your 3 vs. 30 number, you could actually say that given a uniform distribution, you would expect that 1/10 conceptions would occur to underage girls and the actual number is only 1/100 which means that in the grand scheme of things some level of social policy is working. That is making it 10 times less likely that an underage girl conceive than you would expect if the distribution of conceptions were uniform. Of course, even this analysis is facile and ignores the demographics. We should also scale things based on the percentage of the population which is underage girls because of course, if there are a large number of girls between 13-16 right now then you would expect that these statistics would be skewed in an upwards direction even if nothing much else had changed.

wildgoose said...

I believe the age of consent is ridiculously low in Spain, something like 12 or 13?

Personally, I like the Dutch approach which (from memory) uses a sliding scale along with a lower age of consent of (I think) 14.

Basically, below a certain age the sex is only legal if your partner is no more than 2 years older than you. So a 14 year old can legally have sex with a 16 year old, but not an adult. Kids will experiment after all. The main problem isn't the sex it is the contraception or rather lack thereof and the inevitable consequences of that.

A friend and I have come up with a "solution" for our daughters. We will be collecting them from the nightclub in his ex-army Land Rover wearing our tattiest jumpers and playing "Dueling Banjos" on the stereo at full blast. We both have beards, I'm 6'5" and he's a good 6'2". Hopefully their paramours will get the message, although our daughters are unlikely to be too impressed... :-)