Topic: Abandoning teenage consent for adolescent assent: harmonizing developmental sciences and the law

Presenter: Prof. Dr. Jennifer Ann Drobac - Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Recent California, New York, and Illinois civil law precedent concerning the juvenile "age of consent" for sexual activity reveal that states treat adolescent "consent" erratically. The new neuroscience and psychosocial evidence of adolescent development adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida supports the movement to treat adolescents different from more developmentally mature adults. Moreover, adult prejudice and judicial bias against sexually active teenagers places teenagers at risk for sexual harassment and predation.

Conflicts between law and science, as well as between state civil and criminal law, mandate a revision of legal approaches to teenage "consent." This presentation introduces a new mechanism to replace adolescent "consent," legal assent. Legal assent presumes no threshold legal capacity but affords teenagers autonomous decision-making authority, as well as protection following misguided decisions. It highlights that recognition of legal assent might reduce legal bias, better protect teenagers, and encourage their responsible decision-making. 

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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