The Instigator
gmartinez
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Concade
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points

Should it be okay for minors to date adults?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Concade
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,454 times Debate No: 42461
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)

 

gmartinez

Pro

From what I know in the state of California there is not a law that says is not okay for a minor to date an adult. I sure know there is a law that says that an adult can not have any sexual intercourse with a minor and should not be more than or younger than 3 years of age.
This is for a school report to know what the people think.
I would really appreciate your comments.
Thank you.
(not opinions regarding sexual intercourse please)
Concade

Con

I will accept this debate on the con side.
Debate Round No. 1
gmartinez

Pro

I think there shouldn't be a problem for a minor to date an adult. a minor could be 17 years or age and an adult 18 years of age so is only one year of difference, which is not a long time and by that age teens know what's right and what's wrong.
Concade

Con

The question of whether minors should be allowed to date adults and vice versa is a difficult one. Part of the problem is that laws regarding age of consent and marriageable age vary from state to state, and even within various cultures/religions. Therefore, I'm going to make this argument in a way that doesn't rely on any specific laws, but uses some of the same logic these laws hold.

Developmental Differences

Once of the main reasons age of content and marriagable age laws exist is to protect minors whom might be taken advantage of, or simply might not be prepared to consider the complex physical, mental, and social implications of sex and marriage. I argue that the same holds true of dating as well. Will dating automatically lead to sex or marriage? Of course not, but dating itself is different at different ages.

Developmental psychology has long studied the mental differences between age groups. A theory like Eric Erikson's "Stages of Psychosocial Development"[1] highlights the different priorities and challenges between minors and adults. For example, teenagers are often struggling with their sense of identity and self-worth, while adults in their twenties struggle with finding intimacy, starting a family or "making it" in the world.

Obviously these developments aren't concrete, nor instantaneous. It's not like you switch your priorities, or become "mature" the moment you turn 17 or 18. This is one of the reasons age of consent and marriagle age laws become muddied when someone legally becomes an adult. Like the Pro points out, a 17 year old dating a 18 year old isn't much of an issue. Most age of consent laws attempt to account for these small differences as well: that's why you rarely find a recent high school graduate being hauled off to jail for having sex with a high school junior.

On the other hand, these laws do attempt to address wider age gaps. It's not socially (or legally) acceptable for an 18 year old isn't to date a 10 year old anymore than it's socially (or legally) acceptable for a 22 year old to date a 14 year old. Once again, part of the reason for this is to protect minors from being put into situations where they may be taken advantage of, or fail to comprehend the full complexities of a dating relationship. Just because a relationship might not lead to sexual abuse or an illegal marriage doesn't mean that real physical or mental damage can't be done when a considerable age gap exists in a relationship between a minor and an adult.

Different Priorities

Given these developmental differences, it's important to recognize that "dating" is often a different thing depending on your age. Dating in middle and high school is often an important part of a teenager's mental development. You're "learning the ropes" so to speak when it comes to dating, and is most often done without any thought of marriage in mind. Adults on the other hand, particularly as they become more established in their adulthood, start to date with different priorities in mind. Finding a spouse, starting a family, and satisfying that biological need for offspring are stronger concerns than for minors.

Today, the differences between dating among minors and dating among adults present some strict challenges on any possible minor-adult dating relationships. For one thing, such a relationship wouldn't have the possibility of including the sexual aspects of dating without breaking the age of consent laws until the minor is legally an adult. A sexually curious minor, or a sexually active adult, wouldn't find the same degree of emotional or physical satisfacation.

Second, the different priorities of a minor or an adult in a dating relationship couldn't be realized or explored. For example, if an adult is dating to find a potential spouse, that adult would be unable to enter into a dating relationship with a minor in order to fulfill that priority. Legalities aside, most minors wouldn't be looking for the same long term committments that the adult may be looking for.

Finally, the notion of dating is different among age groups. Many youth (including young adults) aren't traditionally dating as much as in the past[2]. Many minors/young adults are prefering a more sexually focused "hookup" instead of a long term, emotional relationship. This demonstrates a difference in priorities among minors and older adults: a minor may be more concerned with the sexual aspects of dating whereas an older adult may be concerned with the emotional aspects of dating.

Ultimately, these differences present many legal and logistical challenges that demonstrate why it's not okay for a minor to date an adult. Obviously exceptions exist depending on the actual difference in age, but the farther this difference expands, the more concrete this "rule" ought to be.
  1. Erikson, Erik H. (1959) Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: International Universities Press.
  2. Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Laura Hamilton and Paula England (Summer 2010). "Is Hooking Up Bad For Young Women?".American Sociological Association.
Debate Round No. 2
gmartinez

Pro

gmartinez forfeited this round.
Concade

Con

Sadly the pro forfeited this round, so I will let my arguments stand for the next round.
Debate Round No. 3
gmartinez

Pro

gmartinez forfeited this round.
Concade

Con

Another forfeit. Please flow my arguments through once more.
Debate Round No. 4
gmartinez

Pro

gmartinez forfeited this round.
Concade

Con

Final round also forfeited by the Pro. Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by lmckeon 3 years ago
lmckeon
Hello Concade,
I guess the problem I have with the argument against a minor dating an adult is the lack of an actual way to measure something like life experience. I hear that phrase thrown around a lot as the justification of the law against underage dating, yet not much of an actual definition of what it means to have life experience exists. Is it something measurable or testable? Without a definition, it is not. So for the purpose of our debate, let's come to an agreement on the definition of life experience. I say that life experience is measured by ones ability to judge right from wrong, make rational decisions, and have accrued enough knowledge to not be naive to the blatant dangers of the real world. An example of my last criteria would be the knowledge that sex is something to be treated extremely carefully. I am not including the quality of knowing oneself in my definition of life experience, as I believe that everyone knows who they are and doesn't know who they are at the same time. With this definition of life experience, which you can add to or subtract from for your argument, I believe that a test that covers these criteria should be given to determine whether or not someone has the requisite life experience to date. If they hit the required mark, then we should allow them to date, no matter how young they are. People may say that it is ridiculous to allow a 14 year old to date a 20 year old, but if they have the requisite life experience, then why is it wrong? I'd love insight into that question.
Now in regards to some people not passing the life experience test because of ignorance, I say make them learn a certain level of life experience before allowing them to date, no matter how old they are. If the person is severely mentally disabled to the point they can't learn or talk or function, well then, they wouldn't be in a relationship anyways. If they found someone to love them though, then let them love back.
Posted by Concade 3 years ago
Concade
Thanks for the questions Imckeon. Like I said, a lot of this stuff tends to get blurry, including developmental differences and priority differences. And these obviously aren't all universal conclusions (i.e. not everyone who's 30 is looking for a spouse just like most teenagers aren't sex crazed). There's a few psychological inventories based off of developmental theories floating around. Many medical scans (fMRI, CT, etc) can give an inside look at the development of a human brain, but nothing is an exact science.

You are certainly correct in saying that many adult dating couples have the same issues... but we believe that each individual has enough life experience and common sense to work through those issues (or leave the relationship) without being taken advantage of. I'm 26, and if my 25 year old date and I disagree about when we want to have children, we're most likely capable of working through the issue or going our separate ways. Is that outcome going to look the same if I'm dating a 15 year old instead? Probably not.

The problem with intelligence determining making general decisions comes in two forms. First, where's the point that a "general level of intelligence" is reached? The human brain isn't considered fully developed until the age of 25. Most humans don't have that much life experience until their out of school and into the real world. So should we prevent people from dating until they have a fully developed brain, or enough life experience?

Second, what about the adults that never reach that "general level of intelligence"? Should we prevent someone with a mental handicap, or someone with brain damage, from dating? I argue that while age obviously doesn't solve everything, it gets us closer to a way of protecting minors without throwing a wrench into the whole notion of dating.
Posted by lmckeon 3 years ago
lmckeon
I have a few questions for the con argument. How does one measure developmental differences or a difference in priorities? Is there a test? Or are we just going to assume that anyone under the age of 18 has developmental differences from a 21 year old? Also, if we are going to forbid younger people from dating older people because of developmental differences or a difference in priorities, why don't we forbid the dating of older people with the same issues. I can make the argument that many dating couples over the age of 18 have those same problems. Therefore, I feel that the forbidding of minors to date adults for the reasons stated in the con argument is wrong. Once a general intelligence level is reached by a minor, then they should be able to make any decision that they want, including the decision to date an adult. Age should not determine dating age, intelligence should.
Posted by gmartinez 3 years ago
gmartinez
I think there shouldn't be a problem for a minor to date an adult. a minor could be 17 years or age and an adult 18 years of age so is only one year of difference, which is not a long time and by that age teens know what's right and what's wrong
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
gmartinezConcadeTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit and dropped arguments.