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Is there a 'gender bias' when it comes to underage sex crimes?

If you're living in Pennsylvania, you may be interested in learning about some types of sex crimes and how they're perceived. Some types of sex crimes are considered as federal crimes, and that can mean extra fines or punishments for defendants. Anyone who is charged with a sex crime should have the right to a defense and an unbiased trial. Because sex crimes -- especially those involving underage children and teens -- receive so much media attention, there can often be bias against the defendant before the trial even begins.

An April 10 report discusses how the perception of a sex crime may change with the gender of a victim. The report indicated that in two different cases, they may not have been taken as seriously since the student or teen involved was male. In the first case, a Cumberland Valley teacher was accused of sexual assault for allegedly performing a sex act with a male student in her classroom. The second situation was one where a woman faced charges due to allegedly sending an elicit video of herself to a teen, age 16.

Some people did not see these situations as being as concerning as those involving female children or because the person being charged was a woman, but is that normal? According to the vice president of public relations for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, who was interviewed on Penn Live, social pressures may make it seem like teenage boys should be sexually active, and even as if those situations were lucky. Because of that perception, it may be hard for some males to call it abuse. However, as an adult, males are able to understand how that situation was created with manipulation or how uncomfortable it was.

In one of the cases, the student was 18 when involved with the teacher. There is a power imbalance between teachers and students, no matter the age, and Pennsylvanian law states that a student can't consent to sexual relationships with their teachers. Although the legal age is acceptable, the activity simply is not, which is an interesting argument.

Source: Penn Live, "Live chat on sex crimes: Does perception change with the gender of the victim?" Chris Mautner, Apr. 10, 2014

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