In Western society there is enormous peer pressure, reinforced by films, TV, magazines and advertising, on 13- or 14-year-olds or younger to become sexually active. Children, in the vulnerable age between physical maturity and emotional immaturity, are increasingly confused and disoriented. The concern is that if the law also endorses a downward trend in sexual activity, a culture will be produced where children have no innocence.
In 1990, the Dutch Parliament approved legislation which reduced to 12 the age of consenting adolescents to legally have sex with one another. This is the lowest of all European countries. Twelve European countries have an age of consent which is 14 or lower for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
There is inevitable potential for abuse in reducing the age of consent. An unscrupulous mother could allow her 12 year-old daughter to become a prostitute, for example.
It is not the intention to encourage sex among minors; simply to bring the law in line with social reality. Youngsters today mature physically and mentally at a much earlier age. Voluntary sexual relations between consenting children are very hard to prosecute. Six percent of Dutch children aged between 12 and 13 are already having sex, regardless of the law.