LANSING (AP) – Sex education classes now include lessons in law,
The state now requires school districts with sex education
courses to include information on the criminal penalties for
engaging in sexual intercourse with minors.
In Michigan, it’s illegal to have sex with anyone under the age
of 16, even if it’s otherwise considered consensual.
But the change, which took effect Oct. 1, could trigger hearings
on the subject statewide, Booth News Service reported
Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), added the language to the school
aid bill after hearing from parents of teenage boys who became
registered sex offenders after being convicted of having sex with
their underage girlfriends.
“It’s not fair to be teaching kids about sex education without
also teaching them about the legal repercussions,” Cropsey
Cropsey said he was unaware that his one-sentence change in law
could trigger hearings statewide on sexual education curriculum,
although he said it would help raise awareness.
Another state law requires two public hearings whenever a
district changes its sex education curriculum, said Brad Banasik,
an attorney with the Michigan Association of School Boards.
Technically, adding a new requirement will do that, he said.
Some Michigan schools already include the criminal aspect in
their health curriculum.
Cheryl Blair, health coordinator for the Kent Intermediate
School District, said sex education in her county already includes
talks with prosecutors.
“I think that students who are choosing to be sexually active
aren’t always aware there are legal consequences. They just think
it’s their personal choice,” she said.
Teen sex offenders are generally charged with third-degree
criminal sexual conduct for engaging in sex with those ages 13, 14
or 15, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexual contact
with those same ages, said Livingston County Prosecutor David
A third-degree conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in
prison, although most people convicted of having consensual but
underage sex don’t end up behind bars, Morse said.
A fourth-degree conviction, which also requires the person
charged to be five years older than the minor sex partner, carries
a penalty of up to two years. Sex with those under 13 is more
serious, and could be charged as a first-degree felony, punishable
by life in prison.
“Kids should be aware of the consequences of what they’re doing.
Under Michigan law, there are consequences beyond getting into
trouble with mom and dad,” Morse said.