The primary question when it comes to prosecuting Romeo & Juliet cases, or what the courts refer to as Statutory Rape, is whether or not at least one of those participating in a sexual act is under the age of consent. The idea is that even if the act was what would generally be considered consensual, where both partners were very willing to share in the act, at least one of those participating was not of a legal age to give their consent.
This occurs most often when students in high school or even late middle school decide they are ready to share the sexual act with another, usually their girl or boyfriend, and they either don’t know or don’t care about the consequences. They may be driven by love, or may just be experiencing new sexual urges brought on by the hormonal changes that all teenagers go through. They may feel pressured in to engaging in sexual activity as a result of peer pressure. Many young people might believe that this is a necessary initiation step in coming of age. Research estimates, according to a Pew survey, that currently nearly 78% of all boys and 62% of all girls have become sexually active while in high school.
When I was back in high school there was always a group of high school girls that were known to be willing to “go all the way”. Some girls even dated numerous boys and thus initiated some boys who had never had sex with a girl before. These girls were known to have a “bad reputation”, and on occasions became pregnant outside of wedlock. The usual solution to that problem, since abortion wasn’t legally available, was to secretly send them away to a home for unwed mothers where once the child was born it was given up for adoption. Unfortunately some abortions were also sometimes preformed illegally and were often done under less then acceptable medical conditions, known as back alley abortions.
Other times when a pregnancy would occur between a girl and her boyfriend they would be forced in to what was called a “shotgun wedding”, where the boy was required to marry the pregnant girl. This was a typical response where the parents of both the boy and girl were religious and believed the choice of marriage had already been made by the couple. Most surprising of all is that history has shown that most shotgun weddings actually proved to have a lower divorce rate than weddings in general.