In different parts of the world the age of consent for sexual contact between two individuals differs. There is actually a country where the age of consent is 12 years of age. By nature's law, puberty dictates when human beings are able to conceive offspring. Nevertheless, human beings have this uncanny ability of ostracizing those who engage in sexual activity with other individuals within their society strictly based upon the laws of that society rather than the maturity (physical, mental, and emotional) of the two individuals. This is not only wrong, it is ludicrous.
How can a child between the age of puberty and 18 in one country engage in sexual contact with another person of same or older age and feel no guilt, shame, or scars of abuse, while another child in a similar situation from another country feel the exact opposite? What is it that causes these two situations to be different?
The answer is how that individual society or community acts or interact with that individual. Here's a simple example: In some countries the act of what is called "genital mutilation" regarding females (removal of the clitoris and or outer vaginal skin) is not only an accepted practice, but a rite of passage into womanhood. While physically painful, the young girl understands that within her society this is an acceptable and desirable practice. After the ceremony has been completed and physical scars healed, there are no long-lasting mental or emotional scars remaining. Why? The reason is simple. The child knows that this is an acceptable occurrence within her society and she is accepted unconditionally for having gone through the uncomfortable ordeal.
In Western society, had the same girl gone through a similar practice, not only would it be considered a most grotesque manner of child abuse, punishable by a prison sentence and a lifetime of ridicule to the perpetrator(s), but the child (now known as a victim of this abuse), knowing that it is an unacceptable and undesirable practice within her society, would feel everything any other child of abuse would feel.
What was a badge of honor in one society becomes a scar of abuse within another; yet the act itself is exactly the same.
There is another side to age of consent which many do not think about. Pseudo-child pornography. Pseudo-child pornography is something that looks like child pornography but is actually legal in every way. You can film it, photograph it, and possess it legally even though every aspect of it appears to be child pornography. Confused?
Several years back there was quite a ruckus in the adult movie industry regarding pseudo-child pornography. The adult industry realized that a high volume of their consumers were requesting videos and images of 18-year-old individuals (female and male actresses and actors alike). Specifically what they were asking for were videos and images of these actresses and actors who looked much younger than they were placed in situations of much younger individuals. An example would be a video of an 18-year-old woman who looked like she was in her early teens, perhaps playing in the playground on a jungle gym. Given her youthful appearance and the set location (usually fabricated on a soundstage set) legislators and other concerned parties felt that such videos and other content cross the line between what was adult and child pornography.
Ultimately the adult industry one over all challenges. One of the arguments involved child beauty pageants where little girls wear heavy makeup and dress as adult women in competitions. How could it be right for them to put themselves on display wearing clearly sexually alluring clothing to look more adult and not allow adult women to do the opposite; looking and acting younger (dressing more like young girls with corresponding sets). It was simply a double standard that could not be tolerated by the adult movie industry.
Also, adult videos are fantasy and an art form. You cannot censor art just because you don't like what is displayed or expressed (it comes under "freedom of expression"). As long as all of the actors and actresses are in fact verifiably over the age of consent, there can be no challenge or argument.
When it comes right down to it, age of consent is a cultural and not literal organism. It is simply a perceptual burden which a specific culture places upon its people. How people interact with one another within that culture, and laws which have been set forth within, is based upon this.
This does not mean that it is okay for individuals within a society to violate the laws which have been passed – making it illegal to engage in certain activities with those of a certain age – especially those prepubescent or whose mental and emotional faculties are compromised (even if they are of legal age).
People within a society must open their eyes and look beyond the accusations strewn about concerning the actions of an individual when those same actions might be legal in another country or society. They must begin to treat those who are considered as "victim" differently as well. If someone can grow up healthy and productive (with no ill side effects) when treated a certain way in one country, there is no reason why that victim (provided no negative stereotypes become involved) cannot grow up healthy and productive in another country.
Part of the victimization (a large part to be truthful) in any form of abuse is what can be called intercessory harm. Imagine you're driving your car and you come upon an accident. You see flames near the gas tank of the crashed vehicle. Knowing that the occupant is still in the car you rush in and pull them out. What you may not know is that in doing so you have done irreparable harm to their spinal column. For the rest of that person's life they are going to be a quadriplegic because of your actions. This is called intercessory harm. You interceded and therefore caused harm.
When law enforcement becomes involved with a victim of a crime the first thing they do is ask them what happened in their own words. The victim now has to relive the events which took place. If the case goes to trial the victim will more than likely have to relive those events again before jury. All of this "reliving of events" causes intercessory harm. Had the victim simply been allowed to seek therapy and not have to explain the events of their victimization over and over again before strangers such intercessory harm would not have occurred. Unfortunately in order for our (American) justice system to function properly the above scenario must take place.
In the end, it all comes down to people fully understanding that what goes on within their own society is not the end-all be-all of human interaction or cause and effect between individuals. The hatred and fear which wells up in an individual upon hearing that someone "under the age of consent" has been "violated" in a sexual manner, must be quelled and measured against the world view. You cannot call someone a sick child molester or monster for having consensual sex with a 13-year-old just because your particular country has decided that that is not the age of consent (in view that other countries have decided it is). This only shows that you are both ignorant and stupid. Rather, you must take pause and realize a few things. The first is, as has been pointed out, that age of consent is based upon a society's laws. Secondly, that nature has genetically predisposed both males and females with a compulsion and desire to engage in sexual intercourse upon the age of puberty. This does not excuse or address issues of prepubescent sexual contact; other than to say that even children under the age of puberty will naturally seek out others (of similar age, older or younger than they) to engage in sexual activities. This is a genetic predisposition which has existed since the dawn of man, currently exists, and will exist until the extinction of man.
Be open-minded and know that not everything you were brought up to believe is exclusively factual. Your nation, society, or community is not the only one on the face of the planet. There are others containing people who believe differently from you; and whose practices, with regard to age of consent, may not parallel your own.
Have you ever wondered exactly who is behind all of the child sex videos and photos traded on the Internet and often tracked down and confiscated by law enforcement? Many people seem to think that they are some loner pedophile luring children into their home or some private place where they can do as they please with them. While this may happen on occasion, or may have happened in the past, there is a whole new type of child pornographer in existence today that has never existed before.
More and more you hear on the news about what is called "selfies". A selfie is simply a self image (or video) usually taken by an individual of them self on their cell phone. While usually innocuous (a fully clothed image of themselves in a sexy pose), some of these images are very racy to say the least.
In the hands of teenagers selfies have become a cult phenomenon. They can be a simple tasteful pose or a completely illegal pornographic photograph or video. Usually a selfie is only taken for the purposes of sharing with someone an individual knows and trusts. However, too often the wrong person is trusted and the selfie can go viral (be sent to multiple individuals or be posted on a public media website). Any selfie which is pornographic in nature and depicts someone under the legal age of consent is considered child pornography by law and punishable, respectively.
Since most of these types of selfies are taken by individuals under the age of consent and shared with other similarly aged individuals not only has the one who took the selfie committed a crime but also the one who has received the content by viewing it; since it is both illegal to produce child pornography and possess it. All of this may occur as a gesture of innocent youth ignorant of consequence yet still held responsible. If found out and track down both participants, as well as all other recipients of the content itself, could be adjudicated in a court of law and placed on the sex offender registry for the remainder of their life. Imagine a 13 to 18-year-old youth creating a selfie, passing it on to several of their friends, and then having it learned of by parents who then informed law enforcement. Everyone involved could have their lives irrecoverably ruined.
In addition to selfies, a similar type of child pornography produced exclusively by unwitting underaged individuals could be happening in a parents house under their own nose without them even knowing about it. Any computer (laptop or PC) with a video camera attached can be used to access any of a number of video chat websites where friends or strangers cannot only text chat but can see each other (and with a mic headset even speak with one another).
Given that most children ( whether they be preteen or teenagers) tend to act without giving much thought to consequences, they may find themselves performing lewd or lascivious acts on camera for the amusement of the viewer. For some it may start as an "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" situation, but soon escalates.
What may be unknown to one of the participants is that the other could very well be recording both the video and sound they are viewing on their screen. There have been several cases which have appeared on the news where individuals who engaged in sexual activity on camera were recorded and then blackmailed by the individual they were interacting with. More than this there is the chance that the video content which was recorded could be uploaded or shared with other individuals unbeknownst to the one acting out in the video itself.
When those who are under the age of consent engage in this type of activity with others of a similar age, just as with selfies, both are guilty of engaging in child sexual abuse; and if one or both records the activities, they are guilty of producing child pornography.
The interesting thing about this particular phenomenon is that usually children who frequent these types of video chat sites are not looking for adults to chat with. They are seeking other children their own age. This means that most of the child pornography content being produced in this manner is so produced by children themselves and have absolutely nothing to do with adult intervention whatsoever.
Certainly any parent who's reading this may be thinking to themselves "not my child". You may be thinking that your child is too smart, or shy to become involved in this type of activity. Given the fact that it is human nature for children to sexually explore both their own bodies as well as those of other children they come in contact with, the medium of a video chat room is simply another way for them to do this. More so, it actually makes them feel safer since there is a buffer between them and the individual they become involved with. They don't have to worry if Johnny next-door is going to tell his mom or dad or perhaps other kids in their school about their sexual experimentation activities. The person on the video monitor could be in a whole other country. Therefore, the sexual activities which may ensue could go much further than any parent reading this would imagine; even with their own child.
It's important that parents be aware of this and that they take steps and precautions to prevent it from occurring. Such activity, even if their child engages in it willingly (which is usually the case since at any point if their child feels uncomfortable they can simply click a button to dismiss the individual they are chatting with), can be recorded by the other individual and even if not used as blackmail against their child, could be shared with pedophiles and others worldwide unbeknownst to them. God forbid that the individual they are chatting with is someone who knows them and now has in their possession very personal and intimate video or images derived from that video which could be circulated as a source of embarrassment or blackmail.
Without getting into any detail here, there's plenty of websites where you can learn about ways to protect your children while they are online. There are plenty of software packages which you can purchase online or at your local computer store which allow you to limit or monitor your child's access to both the computer itself as well as certain Internet sites.
The easiest way to avoid this particular type of activity (using inappropriate video chat) by your child is to locate the computer or laptop which has video capability in a centralized public area within your home such as your living room. Always keep in mind that virtually every laptop produced today has a camera and microphone built in to the screen. As long as your child is a private place to utilize that laptop you're giving them the tools and opportunity to engage in this type of activity.
Age of consent: Is it written in stone? The new child pornographer: Your own child?
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