Bookmark and Share

My Girlfriend and I Are Scared About Age of Consent Laws

Published: July 10, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Dear TeenHealthFX, Ive been with my girlfriend for half a year now and we feel like we want to move to the next level physically. I (male) just turned 17 and she (female) just turned 15. We want to do whatever is safest legally. We trust each other immensely but still at the same time don't want to run into any issues with the law. I'm scared about the whole "age of consent" thing and want to do what's best for her and I. Should we engage or would this be considered illegal? Thank you again!
Signed: My Girlfriend and I Are Scared About Age of Consent Laws

Dear My Girlfriend and I Are Scared About Age of Consent Laws,

You did not mention what state you are in, so TeenHealthFX would like to start by saying that it is very important to look up the state laws where you live. If you live in New Jersey, per the NJ State Police:

“In New Jersey, the official age of consent is 16, but there are some caveats that need to be addressed. A person under the age of 13 cannot give consent. A person who is 13 but less than 16 can consent to sexual relations with another who is NO MORE than four years older, and by no more than four years older, we mean not a day over. If a person is at least 16 but less than 18, he/she CANNOT give consent to an adult who has, among other things, supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the adult's legal, professional, or occupational status.”

If you live in New Jersey, legal issues would arise if it was not consensual, if there is any force or incapacitation of the victim, and/or if the ages of the two people fell outside of the age ranges mentioned above. There is also the possibility that your girlfriend’s parents could pursue an investigation and possible criminal charges, including Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, if they were to find out the two of you are having a sexual relationship but they do not perceive this as totally consensual. Whether this would become an issue really depends on how you and your girlfriend view her parents. Is it possible they would be angry enough about it to see it that way or take things to that level, even if it wasn’t true?

There is a lot to think about when it comes to sexual readiness. You can read articles about it on TeenHealthFX.com, TeensHealth and Planned Parenthood. One of the many things to consider is definitely emotional comfort. If the two of you are extremely anxious about the legalities of this, then perhaps it would be better to wait until a time where you feel more calm and comfortable about it. Another thing for the two of you to think about and talk about is that as much as you may have genuine, loving feelings for one another, 15 is still pretty young to be sexually active in terms of what that will mean for your girlfriend emotionally.

If after thinking about the various aspects of sexual readiness and talking about it with one another, you and girlfriend do decide to have sex, TeenHealthFX encourages you to speak to your doctor about safer sex. Doctors generally recommend that teens and young adults who choose to be sexually active use condoms each and every time they have sex to protect against unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STDs, as well as a back-up method of birth control such as the pill or birth control shot. Your doctor can make the best recommendations for you and discuss with you how to use properly use birth control to maximize its effectiveness.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. A Planned Parenthood health center is a good option if you have concerns about cost or confidentiality issues. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

FX also suggests that you and your girlfriend check out the links in our Resource of the Month: Planned Parenthood Resources on Safer Sex so that you can learn about sexual readiness, how pregnancy happens, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, birth control, STDs and more. The more educated you are about these topics, the more likely you will make healthy decisions for yourself when it comes to your sexual health.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

Ratings