© 2005

The Age of Consent

Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Matthew Waites
    Pages 1-10
  3. Matthew Waites
    Pages 11-39
  4. Matthew Waites
    Pages 40-59
  5. Matthew Waites
    Pages 60-87
  6. Matthew Waites
    Pages 88-118
  7. Matthew Waites
    Pages 208-241
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 242-285

About this book


The Age of Consent; Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship addresses the contentious issue of how children's sexual behaviour should be regulated. The text includes: ·A unique history of age of consent laws in the UK, analysed via contemporary social theory ·A global comparative survey of age of consent laws and relevant international human rights law ·A critical analysis of how protectionist agendas shaped new age of consent laws in England and Wales in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 ·In-depth theoretical discussion of the rationale for age of consent laws ·An original proposal to reduce the age of consent to 14 for young people who are less than two years apart in age Responding to contemporary concerns about young people's sexual behaviour, sexual abuse and paedophilia, this book will engage readers in law and socio-legal studies, sociology, history, politics, social policy, youth and childhood studies, and gender and sexuality studies; and professionals and practitioners working with young people.


behavior childhood children gender globalization health human rights identity law Nation social policy social theory sociology tourism youth

About the authors

MATTHEW WAITES is Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. He has published a variety of articles on young people's sexuality and lesbian, gay and bisexual politics in the UK, and is co-editor, with Jeffrey Weeks and Janet Holland, of Sexualities and Society: A Reader (2003).

Bibliographic information


'A subtle and original book that is bound to shake up preconceived ideas of every kind about the origin and nature of age of consent laws. Presenting the reader with a wealth of surprising information, the book challenges us to consider young people as sexual citizens requiring both empowerment and safety.' - Carole S. Vance, Columbia University, USA

'...well and accessibly written, expertly researched, comprehensive, well argued and structured. This text's subject matters are of considerable current legal, political and sociological concern... An admirable piece of work in every respect.' - David T. Evans, University of Glasgow, UK

'This book is an impressive and invaluable contribution to a controversial debate.' - Professor Jeffrey Weeks, London South Bank University, UK

'[This] is a book of real value if you wish to understand the sexual behaviour of young people and the issues behind the law and how they have developed over the years and are still doing so.' - Justice of the Peace

'This work is a very timely and informative addition to the literature on the legal regulation of childhood and lays the foundations for future scholarly inquiry and debate on this controversial topic.' - Dr. Raymond Arthur, Irish Journal of Family Law

'Certainly the legal profession, forensic psychologists and psychiatrists may find this book of interest and it adds useful argument to current controversial debate.' L. F. Lowenstein, The Police Journal

'...a welcome addition to a subject area...his [Matthew Waites] investigation is original and his theoretical synthesis is invaluable.' - Carolyn Cocca, H-Net Review

'This book is an incredibly detailed exposition of how children's sexual behaviour has been regarded over time, primarily in the UK, with changes outlined, analysed and critically discussed...Waites's tome comes highly recommended for those with an interest in any of these areas: it is a book from which most of us will learn a great deal.' - Katie Buston, Youth& Policy

'In the final analysis this is an excellent piece of work. Its greatest merit is, perhaps, the way in which the detailed analysis inspires thought on what else might be attempted to solve the problem which Waite identifies and with which it seems hard to disagree.' - Craig Lind, Child and Family Law Quarterly

' a work of exemplary sociological and legal analysis, which should certainly feature in debates about the development of policy...represents both an expertly conducted analysis of a controversial debate and a work of high quality, accessible scholarship.' - David James Mellor, Gender and Education

'Matthew Waites has produced a splendid book...for anyone interested in age of consent laws - whether lawyer, social worker, politican or children's or gay rights activist - Waites' book now forms an important addition to the existing literature.' - John Murphy, Sexualities