Todd Nickerson (2007) writes: “[T]here are enough assholes out there who can manipulate kids into doing things they don’t want to do, perhaps causing them real distress and such, and they could easily hide behind such laws by convincing children that they had consented when they hadn’t or to pressure them to say they did anyway. In an ideal society there would be plenty of discussions and places where children could complain if they didn’t like what was being done, but we’ll never have an ideal society. Thus, I agree that children, who are especially vulnerable to coercion and manipulation, deserve speacial (sic) protections in certain areas, and I would say that sex is one of them. That, in a nutshell, is why I am against dropping the laws.”
I can concede that our current society is dangerous for children to consent in – however, I believe that there are several root causes of abuse which can be eradicated or at least their effects greatly mitigated; these include poor quality sex education, adults’ sense of entitlement over children, and shame and embarrassment in talking about sex. These have proved to be consistent inductors of CSA within cultures around the world. Not only do I believe these issues can be addressed, but it is our duty to address them, for without doing that, CSA will continue to flourish. Because of its dubious effects at preventing sex or sexual abuse, I do not believe that the age of consent laws are the most effective way to prevent child sexual abuse – awareness and openness are. The age of consent may indeed have negative effects in that it criminalizes both harmful and harmless relationships and creates an atmosphere of secrecy which may be more inductive to isolation and abuse than a visible relationship.