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CAC Medical Director Offers Clarification

February 22, 2015

In my 11 years of practice in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology at Athens Medical Associates Ob/Gyn, I have come to understand that many patients, parents and others are confused about what constitutes lawful vs. unlawful sexual activity for minors. Although the average age of first intercourse in this country is around age 16 or 17, a significant number of those age 13-15 are having intercourse while others wait until later in life to initiate intercourse.

Below is a summary of the Ohio laws about minors and intercourse that may be helpful in clarifying the laws. I hope this information will help patients, parents and those who are considered mandatory reporters understand what is lawful and unlawful and clarify confusion about when to make a report to Children's Services.

A 12-year-old CANNOT lawfully have intercourse with anyone; this is considered unlawful and may be deemed sexual assault.

Adolescents age 13-17 CAN lawfully consent to intercourse with someone else age 13-17.

Adolescents age 13-15 CANNOT have lawfully intercourse with anyone 18 or older.

Sixteen and older CAN consent to have intercourse with someone age 18 and older.

Additionally, even if the sexual activity does not violate the age restrictions above, if the sexual acts were forced or coerced, or the perpetrator is in a position of power over the victim, like a teacher, coach, parent and/or guardian, they are a violation of the law.

The American College of Ob/Gyn encourages all young women age 13-15 to present for a routine gynecologic assessment, at which time the physician will assess risks/history of sexual abuse, discuss risks of sexual activity, benefits of abstinence, and importance of contraception and sexually transmitted infection testing for those who have had sexual intercourse, and emphasize the importance of HPV vaccination.

Confidential counseling concerning these issues is recommended, and patients should be given one-on-one time with the physician, although the accompanying adult is encouraged to be part of the visit and ultimate decision-making when possible.

Jane Broecker, MD, FACOG Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Medical Director of the Athens Child Advocacy Center

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