There are many laws relating to underage dating, depending on the age of the individuals involved and the age difference between the couple. It is important to understand that while underage dating is not illegal, sexual activity between a minor and adult is. According to the Sexlaws.org website, the age for an individual to legally engage in sexual activity with another person varies from state to state in the United States, so be sure to check your individual state laws for clarification.
Statutory rape is defined as any type of sexual activity between a minor and adult, even if they have agreed to be in a romantic relationship with one another and the sex is consensual. The minor or the minor’s guardian or anyone else who is involved with the student professionally (school counselor or coach) and is required by law to report it, can file charges against the perpetrator.
Age of Consent
Every state has an “age of consent,” which is when an individual can choose to engage in sexual acts without it being considered statutory rape. The age of consent usually ranges from 14-18 years old; in a large percentage of the states, however, the age of consent is 18 years old.
Type of Relationship
Every state has different laws depending on the type of relationship between the two individuals in question. Some specific relationships that are involved in statutory rape such as a relationship between teacher and student may have more severe consequences than two individuals who are in a monogamous relationship where one is a minor. Besides the relationship, the severity of the punishment also depends heavily on the age difference of the couple.
Type of Actions
The types of sexual actions that the couple engaged in is another factor that is taken into account in court. Sexual intercourse is considered to always be statutory rape, but other sexual acts vary from state to state. Oral and anal sex are two common sexual activities that have different specific guidelines when referring to statutory rape in each state.