Teenagers on Sex and the Law - Part II

Four Atlanta teenagers continue their discussion on sex, the law and consequences.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

I'm Michel Martin. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Just ahead: love in black and white. But first, we're going to continue our conversation with Ariel Lucas, Britney Elder, James Jordan and Michael Reyes. They're all students at Douglasville High School in Douglasville, Georgia - Genarlow Wilson's old school.

I asked them if they knew that if you're a boy and you're over 16, and if you have sex with a girl under 16, that that's against the law.

Ms. ARIEL LUCAS (Student, Douglasville High School, Douglasville, Georgia): No.

Ms. BRITNEY ELDER (Student, Douglasville High School, Douglasville, Georgia): No.

Mr. JAMES JORDAN (Student, Douglasville High School, Douglasville, Georgia): No.

MARTIN: What's the age difference do you think you have to have for you to get charged?

Mr. JORDAN: I'd say he will be a couple of months older than that person.

Ms. LUCAS: Five years, four years.

Mr. JORDAN: Yeah, four years.

Ms. LUCAS: That's why - I think it's four years.

MARTIN: Four years.

Ms. ELDER: I just it tuned out, my mom was talking to me about this stuff.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Britney, you said you tune out when your mom tries to talk to you about this stuff?

Ms. ELDER: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: How come?

Ms. ELDER: It's kind of embarrassing. And I'm like, oh my God, please momma.

Mr. JORDAN: But those be the main people that need to hear it.

Ms. ELDER: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: Now, Genarlow Wilson was 17, and he was convicted of having sex with somebody who's 15. She was just two years younger than he. What do you think about what happened? Ariel?

Ms. LUCAS: I think that just because she was under 16, he got in trouble or whatever. But it was only two years, so I don't think he should get 10 years for it.

MARTIN: Britney, what about you?

Ms. ELDER: I feel the same way. If it ain't the - you know, you are an adult now, like, 20, 21, and the girl's like, 15, 16, that should be illegal. But I mean, when you're still a teenager and ya'll still, like, probably go to school together or probably in the same room with each other. There's going to be connections there - I mean definitely, if y'all feel the same way about each other.

MARTIN: James, what do you think?

Mr. JORDAN: Two years really ain't that big of a difference. They might have been talking since they were probably was in elementary or middle school.

MARTIN: Do kids think differently about oral sex than they do about having intercourse?

Ms. LUCAS: Oh, yes.

Mr. JORDAN: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: (unintelligible) it down for me.

Mr. JORDAN: You could sleep around what everybody, but like, if you get oral sex, you will get a way worse name than they will.

MARTIN: As a guy?

Mr. JORDAN: Yeah.

Ms. LUCAS: Yeah. They don't think oral sex is bad.

Mr. JORDAN: Yeah, as a female, because it's like, you mostly catch the girls doing it. You might catch, like, a couple of guys doing it, but not as much as them girls.

Ms. LUCAS: And you know what? It's like, only like a couple of girls that going to do it to everybody.

Ms. ELDER: Everybody.

MARTIN: Would you say that most parents know how much sex kids are having, or do you think the parents are ignorant?

Ms. ELDER: No. They don't know.

Ms. LUCAS: (unintelligible) they can't find that little innocent (unintelligible) at times, but they're doing stuff behind closed doors that they don't want their parents to find out.

MARTIN: Is it considered a negative for kids to be having sex?

Ms. LUCAS: It depends. It's, like, what kind of relationship you have. Like, ya'll just don't know each other, whatever, then that's bad. But like if ya'll know each other real good, and ya'll have got all of this and all that, then yeah. It's cool. Like nobody really have a problem with that stuff (unintelligible).

MARTIN: Okay. Knowing what you know now about Genarlow Wilson and the fact that he is, to this point, sentenced to be in prison for 10 years, do you think that that changes your thoughts about the decisions that you might make?

Mr. REYES: I mean, I think before I act on everything - well, almost everything. So, yeah. There's going to be thinking about that, because I ain't trying to get lock up for 10 years and stuff.

MARTIN: Okay. Ariel Lucas, Britney Elder, James Jordan, Michael Reyes. Thank you all so much for talking to us about this stuff.

Ms. LUCAS: You're welcome.

Ms. ELDER: You're welcome.

Mr. REYES: You're welcome.

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