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February 10, 1999

Sexual Abuse and Adolescent Pregnancy—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(6):511-513. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-6-jac80022

In Reply: As correctly alluded to by Dr Zanga, there have been tremendous discrepancies in the terminology used to describe sexual relationships between minors and adults, within both the literature and the law. A review of state statutory rape laws determined that the term statutory rape is used rarely, with more than a dozen different terms used by different states.1 Classically, sexual abuse has been defined to include engaging a child in sexual activities for which he or she is developmentally unprepared and cannot give informed consent.2 Young girls up to the age of 15 years are generally considered to be neither legally nor developmentally capable of consenting to sexual relationships with adults, and consequently, these relationships constitute sexual abuse.1

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