Much talk around the abuse of children centres on the desire (or demand) for justice. Unfortunately, justice is not easy to attain. To begin with, it tends to require a justice system. This introduces all manner of creaking bureaucracy and complicated, sometimes outmoded laws. Justice outcomes are also hugely influenced by race, gender, and inequality. Nor does it help when our political leaders ladle out injustices upon young people, whether by perpetuating outrages against child refugees or by disparaging those who dare to take a stand against the ruinous environmental practices of their elders.
The Age of Consent is an edited collection that provides a powerful commentary on many contemporary issues in youth justice, agency, and sexuality. As society has surged into the information age with little chance to stop and wonder about its impact on young people, so this book attempts to address some of the paradoxes, loopholes, and – most significantly – fictions that abound. In a country where conservative mythmaker Andrew Bolt can rail about the ‘weaponising’ of sexual abuse allegations in the Family Court, and ‘sex therapist’ Bettina Arndt operates a ‘fake rape crisis campus tour’, clearly there are no shortage of figments to debunk.