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Consenting Juveniles™ Research Study Announced

At the 47th annual conference of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) on Saturday, Dr. Marshall Burns, president of SOL Research, presented preliminary results of a new project underway.

“Soon after we first posted results of our research on sex laws back in 2007,” said Burns, “we began to be contacted by individuals complaining of being treated as abuse victims when they disagree.” He describes a call from a young woman he calls Amber. “She asked if was okay for her to contact her boyfriend in prison now that she was 18.”

Amber was 13 when she met Terry at a carnival. He was 18 and she lied and told him she was 16. They dated for eight months before a teacher in her school heard about the relationship and reported it. “Things were twisted around to make it look like he abused me,” complained Amber, insisting that isn’t true.

SOL Research launched the Consenting Juveniles project to find out if there are more people who enjoyed physical intimacy as juveniles with someone older and hold it as a positive experience in their lives. “It seems like a common experience, but many people are reluctant to talk about it,” says Burns.

Burns has now interviewed more that 50 people in this project and has found over 70 published accounts, such as autobiographies and broadcast interviews in which people talk about their youthful experiences. Most of his own interview subjects have requested anonymity, but the published accounts include such celebrities as Kirk Douglas, Kate Winslet, Ike Turner, Franco Zeffirelli, and Dan Savage. They also include Roger Baldwin, co-founder of the ACLU, and Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association.

First-hand accounts of all these cases are available on the “Cases” page of the project website, www.ConsentingJuveniles.com/cases .

A number of prominent psychologists have endorsed the research. Prof. Elaine Hatfield, former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, calls it “important research that makes a greatly needed contribution to the literature.” Prof. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University describes it as “a fascinating, urgently needed, heartrending project.” Prof. Alissa Ackerman says it “puts a face and a voice to a topic that is timely, necessary, and, too often, ignored.” Dr. Winston Wilde calls it “unparalleled in any previous research.” The late senator John Vasconcellos expressed an interest in writing a letter of endorsement before his death in 2014.

The complete letters of endorsement can be found on the “About” page of the project website, www.ConsentingJuveniles.com/About_the_Research .

Dr. Burns’ presentation at the AASECT conference, entitled, Consenting Juveniles: First-Hand Accounts of Sex for Fun or Love, was in the Research Briefs track at 11:45 am on Saturday, June 6, 2015. The conference was held at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more on the conference, see www.AASECTconference.org .

The point of the research, according to Burns, is to listen to what these people have to say about their youthful experiences. “We don’t have the answers about what is okay for kids to do and what is not okay, about what is healthy or not, or about what should or shouldn’t be legal,” he said. “But if you’re going to talk about those things, the thoughts and feelings of these people ought to be heard in that discussion. That’s the purpose of this research.”
More information about the Consenting Juveniles project is available at the project website, www.ConsentingJuveniles.com .
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SOL Research™ (www.SOLresearch.org) conducts research on sex laws and their effects on people and society. SOL Research is a project of Ennex Corporation. Ennex™ (www.Ennex.com) is a family of small companies founded by Marshall Burns in 1975 to take on extraordinary challenges and opportunities.
“Consenting Juveniles” is a trademark of SOL Research.

Join the discussion

  1. David

    Wow! Reliable, objective research on juvenile consent is long overdue. Many of us, myself included, were convicted for consensual* relationships (*standard use, common understanding of the word; not statutory definition stating specific age). Sadly for all, the voice of the consenting, so-called “victim” is rarely heard once the legal wheels start turning. And so, they become victims of abuse by the very legal system that purports to protect their rights and safety.
    There should be consistency in our society. Example: if a 16 year old is able – without parental consent – to legally obtain birth control pills, wouldn’t it be logical that this same juvenile should have the ability to legally consent to sexual activity? Likewise, if State law allows a juvenile to be awarded “emancipation” at a certain age, wouldn’t consistency suggest that this also be the age of consent for that State?

  2. mike r

    It’s about damn time that women come out and proclaim that they were not victims and that their experiences were positive and something they will cherish for the rest of their lifes. I don’t care what anyone says when young women ate sexually mature and ready to have sex they need loving experienced and emphatic individuals that will respect and care if they are having a positive experience not some idiot that don’t give a sh.. about them and just wants to have their way with them regardless of what kind of damage they are inflicting on them both physically and emotionally. Women can be damaged for life because of negative sexual experiences they have as young women that’s probably what’s wrong with the majority of women these days and their over zealous fear of sex. I’m not suggesting anyone break our laws I’m just saying we as a society need to question our high morals and fears of sex for young people and let research and data and facts such as this research that is being done take place and be open minded and not blinded by morals and beliefs.

  3. mike r

    It’s amazing how they can prosecute juveniles as adults but they can’t consent to sex. Hypocritical system if you ask me.

    • td777

      When I was in jail in Riverside, someone I knew was in because his wife, someone that he married in their home country of Mexico, was 16. The hospital reported him when she had given birth to their first child. She was legal to marry in Mexico, but here was not old enough to consent to her own husband. At the same time, the DA was trying a 12 year old girl as an adult for murdering her grandmother. Go figure!

  4. mike r

    So the juvenile is protected under the law from an individual from engaging in any kind if sexual conduct but has no protection from the law from the court when it comes to culpability or punishment.

  5. mike r

    The criminal nonjustice system is subjecting more children to sexual assaults then any rso’s ever will.

    Some 10,000 children are housed in adult jails and prisons on any given day in America. Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities and face increased risk of suicide

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