In 2020, loving whoever you want despite race, gender or sexuality is widely accepted.

One concept that is not included is predatory dating. The ages of two people in a relationship still matter, even in 2020. Statutory rape is just as serious of an offense now as it always has been, and it should be kept that way.

A TikTok video, which can be found on YouTube, recently surfaced of an 18-year-old high school senior being scolded by his friend about his relationship with a 13-year-old girl. In the video, the man stated that the age of the young girl “doesn’t matter.”

His friend goes on to ask him, “Has she even hit puberty?” and he responds, “I don’t know, yeah.” The 18-year-old continues by referencing how good looking she is and that age doesn’t matter.

This voluntary blindness may end up getting the young man in a heap of legal trouble. The legal age of consent in the United States varies from 16 to 18 years old. However, there are close-in-age exemption laws, which “exist to decriminalize consensual sex between two individuals who are both under the age of consent,” according to the informational website AgeOfConsent.

Regardless of legality, age is a signifier of maturity, knowledge, and the strength or ability to consent to the intimate parts of a relationship, like sex. It is imperative that everyone, especially young adults, understands exactly how traumatizing a relationship with an older partner can be to young teenagers who haven’t figured themselves out yet.

This relationship could potentially scar the 18-year-old and 13-year-old for the rest of their lives.

Taking into consideration the man also described the young girl in hyper-sexualized terms instead of as a human being with other attributes demonstrates a predatory mentality. This girl is a minor, and he is not.

Many people talk about how it’s wrong to sexualize young girls in the entertainment industry. Yet, many fail to realize how normalized the hyper-sexualization of young girls is outside of movies, music and media.

The fact that two people, in completely different stages of life, are still accepted as a valid couple is mind-boggling. At 13-years-old, a young girl is just barely beginning the transition into puberty and discovering all that womanhood entails. An 18-year-old is a young adult already immersed in the real world.

This allowance of predatory behavior is how young girls disappear and get sex-trafficked. It is dangerous for society to continue allowing this kind of behavior to pass.

When engaging in a relationship with an older partner, be safe, be of age and be aware.