When are you old enough to take responsibility for your actions?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11862890

I chose to write about these articles and this particular topic because I genuinely wonder if there is really an exact age where we can let young adults deal with the consequences of their actions. I don’t believe it’s fair to say that every 14 year old boys mind works the same way, just like every 40 year olds mind is not going to work the same either. I think maturity is based a lot on how you are raised and your life experiences.

I’ll start by saying in no way am I supporting the criminals who abuse their positions as adults, whether these be teachers, sportsman or any other person. I just believe that there is always two sides to a story, and that today’s society has made it far too easy to point the ‘rape’ or ‘abuse’ finger, something that can be so easily taken advantage of. Please do not assume that I believe that boys cannot be victims to sexual abuse, because I am very aware that they can. Of course, what I am saying depends on context. For example, an adult male taking advantage of a younger person, say a 10-year-old girl – this is completely wrong, she is not in any position to accept. BUT, say a man is out at night on his way to get money from an ATM, a 13-year-old girl he does not know approaches him and offers to give him a blow job in exchange for money. He doesn’t know her age and she is offering. Is it his responsibility to find out her age if she appears to be older than she is? And is it his responsibility to consider it being a crime when someone has offered him, literally giving him consent? – This is based on an article I read a few weeks back, and this example is going to be one of the two I will use to back up my perspective on this topic.

The article I have shared above is about a 40-year-old female teacher who had sexual relations with three 14-year-old boys. I came across this article on Facebook and there was a variety of opinions. Now, the only reason that I was not completely on board with the victims, is because of context. I shared my thoughts in the comment section of this article and received a reasonable amount of insults stating that because of my opinion I must be perverted, sick and disgusting. How I see it, is that if these women (who were adults and clearly mothers themselves) find it necessary to use insults just to make their point more valid then that pretty much speaks for itself. If you need to use insults to defend yourself then maybe that expresses a lack of confidence in your own belief, or shows that you are a close-minded person who thinks that using insults makes your ideas superior.

This situation would be completely different if the boys had been a few years younger. Because I am a 20-year-old, I have lived, and quite recently, around 14-year-old boys, and they are NOT as innocent as their parents would like to believe. Psychologists have proven that our brains are still developing around the age of 14, and that girls definitely mature at a faster rate than boys, enabling them to make better judgements and decisions. This is why we do have a law in place that decides that children under the age of 16 are not old enough to make a decision about what they want sexually, and to sleep with someone under the age of 16 (if you’re older) is a crime and considered ‘taking advantage of a vulnerable person’.

Let’s get real here. The article did not state how authorities found out, and a few comments discussed that they probably only found out because the boys were caught bragging to their mates about it. I believe this to be true, because from my experience, that’s what most 14-year-old boys in that position would do. These boys had sexual relations with this teacher multiple times, where she allowed a place to go to do drugs and drink alcohol. Of course she took advantage of her position, she is 100% in the wrong and has committed a crime. She is attracted to underage boys, and has abused her responsibility as an adult. BUT, are the boys all that innocent because they’re 14? Are 14 year olds truly unable to make a bad decision and learn from the consequences, rather than society telling them they were victimized and abused and that this experience should have traumatized them? Does society get to determine whether or not they were traumatized because legally they aren’t entitled to make decisions about their own sexual desires?

A point I made in the comment section was that telling the boys that they were victims of abuse, only adds to the traumatization, even if there was none there in the first place. Would the boys have been completely fine to move on from this if no one found out? Probably, yes. This woman needed to be caught, don’t get me wrong. She most definitely shouldn’t be allowed in a position where she is able to spend so much time around younger students. But are these boys really going to be scarred for life due to this experience, or are people just forcing them to believe that? I understand that there are rules and laws to protect people for this reason, but can people not see that our generations are becoming more and more open, more and more mature at younger ages. Children’s maturity doesn’t always have to be based on what information they can handle, does learning about sex and drugs and alcohol not contribute to building a child’s understanding of the world, therefore building his or her maturity?

Let’s talk about the article I mentioned in my first paragraph (I don’t have a link). To summarise the description: A 13-year-old girl was out on the streets late at night, she approached a man who was at an ATM and asked if he would give her money in exchange for a blow job. The man obliged. He was then charged for abuse to an underage girl.

Consider this:

  • If you’re in my generation, you know what 13-year-old girls can be like these days.
  • You know how a 13-year-old girl can add 5 years on by wearing the right clothes and the right amount of make-up – and they do.
  • The girl is out on the street at night.
  • The man has never met this girl before.
  • Should a man have to reject a blow job if it is offered to him by a stranger?
  • Is he responsible for asking her age before having sexual relations with this girl?
  • If he had asked, would she have even told the truth?
  • Is he in the wrong if he is the one being lied to?

How I see this situation, is that a man could have easily been falsely accused of child abuse because a silly young girl made a poor decision and didn’t want to take blame for it. This is something that can ruin a person’s entire life, place a man on the child-predators list for 10 years and stop him from moving on with his life. That is what I mean about how it is so easy to point the ‘rape’ or ‘abuse’ finger, and how easily it is believed when it’s a young girl against an adult male. Who are they going to believe?

Firstly, I believe it is fair for the man to assume she is old enough when she looks older than she is, is out on the streets at night and has offered him a blow job. It isn’t his position to find out her age when she has directly given him permission. The idea that it should have been his responsibility to know her age and that what he was doing wrong just weakens our society. This teaches people (especially younger people) that they can make terrible decisions and then place the blame on someone else. This teaches them that they don’t need to take responsibility for their actions because they’re too young to make decisions in the first place. How about instead of teaching them this bullshit, teaching them that the world is a fucked-up place, don’t sugar coat it. Teach your kids to harden the fuck up, don’t take bullshit, and to be aware that every action has a consequence. Teach them from a young age that being responsible for your own actions helps you grow as a person, and that placing the blame on someone else can destroy someone’s life. Society and laws have so much to say about what is right and what is wrong, that I feel like it creates more of a problem for people because society likes to tell people WHAT is wrong with them and what SHOULD be wrong with them.

A woman told me to come back and read my comments once I have children of my own. What makes her believe that my thoughts are going to change once I am in charge of someone else’s life? I want to raise my children to be open-minded, I do not want to shelter them and protect them from the world because they will most definitely find out for themselves once they’re old enough. If they are anything like me they will realise that at a young age, and if anything, this strengthens our character and helps to protect us in the messed-up world we live in. I want my children to be trusted and understood, I want to know them, I want them to be who they want to be and know that I’ll have their back no matter what. Teach your kids to take responsibility for themselves and you’ll raise a fucking star.

Author: shannonrealtalk

20, Hamilton NZ, Psychology Major at the University of Waikato

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