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Sex with Minors

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Legal Realities

The law in the U.S. mandates that all child sexual abuse be reported to the proper authorities. If you are reading this as an adult who has had sex with a child or children, the following information is addressed to you. If you are a U.S. citizen and have not reported your behavior to the police or to the child welfare or child protective agency in your state, Federal law requires that you do so. If you live elsewhere, it would be important to find out what the laws are where you live regarding sex between adults and minors, as well as what help is available for those who have crossed this line.

The following information is presented from in a U.S. context. Self-reporting understandably is a difficult thing to do as it can generate a lot of fear about the possible consequences. For that reason, most reports are made by others, not by the person experiencing the problem him/herself. But the person who is willing to self report and who is also willing to get specialized professional help for the problem may find that the authorities are cooperative with the attempt to be responsible and to change one’s behavior.

In Houston, Texas (where this was written), in less extreme cases, after an adult has self reported and the fact has been verified that the person was voluntarily getting professional help, the following sometimes occurs. A case is opened by the State child protective agency, an official investigation is made, and no further action is taken other than occasional follow-up reports, as long as the person continues getting professional help. There are no guarantees, of course, how any situation will be handled. But, in any case, the person can have the inner satisfaction of knowing that he/she took responsibility for a serious mistake and in so doing may have started a process in which the child victim or victims is/are helped to recover from the trauma.

Stopping the sexual relations and getting help spares a child from more harm. Plus, a sexually abused child who is connected to professional help right away also has a better chance of surviving the abuse with fewer devastating and life-long consequences.