The United States Age-of-Consent Laws Governing the Sexual Conduct of Minors

A Rationale for National Uniformity; an Overview of the Present Law; a Proposal for Reform
  • Judianne Densen-Gerber
  • John R. DuganJr.
Part of the Critical Issues in American Psychiatry and the Law book series (CIAP, volume 4)


In 1974, the primary author in conjunction with Jean Benward, the then Director of Research for Odyssey House, Inc. of New York, prepared and presented a paper at the annual February meeting of The American Academy of Forensic Sciences entitled “Incest, a Dynamic Factor in the Production of Antisocial and Drug Taking Behaviors of Females.” On a specific day in 1973, that study had surveyed 100 females being treated by the Odyssey system who had been previously residents of 26 jurisdictions. Over 38% had experienced some type of sexual trauma during childhood: most of it severe in nature, repetitive, lasting over several years, and involving a known person, often a custodial guardian, parent, or equivalent. These females discussing their childhood, almost to a person, reported feelings of lessened self-worth and esteem, a sense of helplessness and shame, social isolation, condoning or unavailable female role models, a lack of a sense of the ability to control or design their own destinies, and a myriad of like traits, which most of us in forensic psychiatry associate with the antisocial, drug-taking female. Only too often, such a female is a premature parent, frequently abusive and neglectful, who passes on to her child premorbid characteristics that we anticipate will yield juvenile delinquency, crime, drug taking, and other antisocial behaviors. Sadly, it is currently these females who are bearing AIDS-infected babies.


Antisocial Behavior Child Sexual Abuse Sexual Contact Child Pornography Sexual Trauma 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judianne Densen-Gerber
    • 1
  • John R. DuganJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Odyssey Institute Corporation of ConnecticutBridgeportUSA
  2. 2.Research Foundation of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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