What Is Statutory Rape?
Statutory rape is defined by Merriam-Webster as “sexual intercourse with a person who is below the statutory age of consent” [Merriam-Webster. (n.d.).] The legal definition is basically the same for every state, except that individual states define a minor below the age of consent differently. For Nevada, “Statutory Sexual Seduction” is defined by Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 200.364 as “ordinary sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, or sexual penetration committed by a person 18 years of age or older with a person who is 14 or 15 years of age and at least 4 years younger than the person who is 18 years or older (defined by law as a perpetrator). The legal consequences for statutory sexual seduction are outlined in Nevada statutes as well (NRS 2000.368 Penalties):
“A person who commits statutory sexual seduction shall be punished:
- If the person is 21 years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
- Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, if the person is under the age of 21 years, for a gross misdemeanor.
- If the person is under the age of 21 years and has previously been convicted of a sexual offense, as defined in NRS 179D.097, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130.”
What Is the Scope of the Problem?
According to numbers for the Statutory Rape Prevention Project:
“Statutory Rape is a major issue in the United States; to combat this, every state has laws in place to protect young people from perpetrators and inappropriate sexual relationships. These inappropriate relationships are harmful for the adolescent involved.
- According to Child Trends, in 2002 approximately 13% of female and 5% of males under the age of 18 had experienced statutory rape.^
- In Nevada 70% of the babies born to teen mothers are fathered by adult men (2004 Nevada Vital Statistics).^
- Statutory rape victims are more likely to become pregnant, contract a sexually transmitted disease, drop out of school, experiment with drugs and alcohol, etc.^
- Evidence supports the need for this type of education due to the increase in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, dropout rates, drug and alcohol use and disrupted development.^
- Most minors know the age limits for getting a tattoo, driver’s license, or even voting, but are not typically familiar with Nevada’s statutory rape laws.^
- As students begin dating and exploring their sexuality it is important to provide them with the proper education in order to prevent statutory rape from occurring.”
What People Can Do About Statutory Rape
For members of the general public, knowledge of statutory rape may be minimal, but the information is important to know for awareness, prevention, and to be able to act in appropriate ways. For behavioral health providers it is important to:
- know the state and federal laws,
- know how to prevent it from happening,
- be aware of what it is and how to recognize when this has occurred,
- and have the skills necessary to take the appropriate action.
For behavioral health providers that means not just the basic knowledge, but knowing if, when, and how mandatory reporting requirements apply, and keeping up with laws if they change. Since treatment and intervention modalities and available resources can also change, it means professional development and reading the literature on a regular basis.
Nevada Public Health Foundation
Nevada Public Health Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps to mobilize resources and deliver programs for Nevadans. One of the programs it supports, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Welfare & Supportive Services is the Statutory Rape Prevention Project. The goals for the project are to raise awareness and prevention, provide presentations, and research statutory rape. This organization offers presentations suitable for teens, mandatory reporters, parents, and conferences. The Nevada Public Health Foundation is an excellent source of information about a variety of public health concerns for Nevadans, particularly the Research Briefs, which provide health rankings for Nevada by county and the Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book.
One opportunity for professional development for behavioral health providers who may not know as much about statutory rape as they would like, offered through CASAT Training, is the Statutory Rape Prevention Project’s: Increasing Awareness, Mandatory Reporting, and Prevention of Statutory Sexual Seduction Webinar. This training will be held October 27, 2020 11:30am – 12:45 pm PST. The presenter will be Tess Peterson, MSW, Statutory Rape Prevention Project and Lauren Raack, BPH, NvCLPPP
During this free presentation, attendees will learn about teen dating violence, consent, Nevada laws pertaining to age-gap relationships, the harmful impact of these relationships on the victims, and best practices in reporting.
- Statutory Rape has harmful consequences on the victim. Research indicates some of the harmful consequences are increased teen pregnancy rates, increase in STIs, increase in high school dropout rates, and earlier drug and alcohol use in victims of these crimes.
- As mandatory reporters, you are obligated to report violations of these crimes. This presentation assists you in identifying best-practice in reporting.
- Due to COVID-19 many of the teens you work with do not have as much access to this information from their health classes. This presentation will provide you with the knowledge to better assist the teens you serve.
To register for this free webinar visit the CASAT Training website.
For more resources on this important topic, please visit the CASAT OnDemand Resources & Downloads page.