Age of Consent Laws
Document Based Question
by Sharon Cohen
(Suggested writing time: 50 minutes)
The following question is based on the documents included in this module. This question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents.
Drawing on specific examples from the sources in the module, write a well- organized essay of at least five paragraphs in which you respond to the following prompt:
- Analyze the causes of the changes and continuities in age of consent laws in Western Europe between 1850 and the present.
What additional sources, types of documents, or information would you need to have a more complete view of this topic?
Write an essay that:
- has a relevant, clear thesis that answers the question,
- uses at least six of the documents,
- analyzes the documents by grouping them in as many appropriate ways as possible. Does not simply summarize the documents individually, and
- takes into account both the sources of the documents and the creators' points of view. You may refer to relevant historical information not mentioned in the documents.
How to Cite This Source
Stephen Robertson, "Age of Consent Laws," in Children and Youth in History, Item #230, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/teaching-modules/230 (accessed November 29, 2015).
- Primary Sources
- The Trial of Stephen Arrowsmith (1678) [Trial Record]
- "The Violation of Virgins" [Newspaper Article]
- Petition to Raise the Age of Consent (1887) [Petition]
- "Review of the Age-of-Consent Legislation in Texas"[Magazine Article, 1895]
- Speech Defending an Increased Age of Consent in India (1891) [Speech Transcript]
- Adolescent Sexual Experimentation Should Not Be a Crime [Commentary]
- Jailbait (1957) [Song Lyrics]
- U.S. Supreme Court Decision Justifying Gender-Based Age of Consent Laws [Legal Document]
- Rejection of a Higher Age of Consent for Homosexual Acts [Legal Decision]
- Isn't she a little young? Sex with a minor. Don't go there. [Billboard]
- Age of Consent Laws [Table]
- Age of Menarche in Norway [Chart]