Statutory rape — an adult unlawfully engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor–continues to be an alarming problem not only in Massachusetts, but around the country. The legal age of consent in Massachusetts is 16, and the primary intention of statutory rape laws is to protect teenage girls and boys from being sexually preyed upon by adults. A significant number of statutory rape cases involving young girls and older men result in pregnancy and eventual abortion.
There are devastating human and social costs associated with statutory rape, including the abuse of the child involved, increased rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, increased rates of fatherlessness, and higher rates of child poverty and welfare dependency. MFI encourages legislators to increase penalties for statutory rape by adults who are five or more years older than their victims, allocate special funds for prosecution of statutory rape cases, and create statutory rape education campaigns. Parents should also inform their children that some adult men and women prey on teenagers and that sexual contact with them is a crime.