A Tennessee couple has been charged with child neglect for encouraging their 15-year-old daughter to have a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old man who moved into their house six months ago. Bryan and Donna Smith face a misdemeanor charge of child neglect for allowing Stephen Rogers Jr., who has dated their daughter for several months, to have sex with her; they even bought him condoms to encourage safe sex. Rogers has been charged with statutory rape.
The police were alerted by a neighbor, who called the state's Department of Children's Services.
The neighbors had disparate opinions on the subject. Angela Moore was tolerant of the Smiths’ approach:
He seems like a good guy. I know there's an age difference, quite an age difference, but they're actually a really good couple. They're almost one of those perfect little couples you never see anymore. It's just a fine line. It's really a fine line. I'm not going to say that it's OK. It's just that with their relationship, it's a little different. There's so much other stuff in this county that's so much worse going on, and they're worried about this. I find it to be kind of bogus really.
Another neighbor had a different view. “Some 15 year olds may be able to handle it, and some may not," said Virginia Presnell. “I don't think a 15-year-old should be with a 21-year-old.”
With studies showing that the pre-frontal cortex, which is the “CEO” of the brain and governs the amygdala (which processes emotions) still growing as adolescents mature, it makes perfect sense for there to be laws regulating sex for teenagers. It is simply inappropriate for those whose emotions swamp their intellect to engage in intimate acts that can leave huge emotional scars.