Answer: No, so long as the friendship does not cross the boundaries of legal and acceptable behavior.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Is It Illegal To Be Friends With a Minor? (Discussion)
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What Contact Between An Adult and a Minor Is Illegal?
Being friends with a minor isn’t illegal, so long as the friendship stays within certain boundaries.
An adult is prohibited from engaging in any kind of physical intimate contact with a minor.
The definition of intimate contact in the state matters, as well, as most states go beyond the ultimate act of physical love and have rules against even small types of intimate contact with a minor, such as kissing, sitting on a lap, or even patting someone’s behind, if the contact was intended to be intimate.
Adults are also prohibited from showing minors adult materials (that show or describe intimate acts or nudity).
Sending suggestive messages via email, SMS text, or social media can also result in criminal charges.
While suggestive verbal comments to a minor are more challenging to prosecute, they could still result in trouble for the adult.
It is also illegal for the adult to provide access to substances that the minor is not yet old enough to consume or are illegal for anyone to possess.
If the “friendship” activity doesn’t involve prohibited touching, materials, substances, or communications (or other illegalities such as trespassing or criminal mischief), then the contact wouldn’t rise to the level of criminal.
Are There Exceptions To The Rules That Would Allow An Adult and a Minor To Have Intimate Contact As Friends?
Yes, there are, in some states.
But not all.
In some states, the rule is absolutely…don’t touch a minor at all for intimate purposes, or in any situation that could be construed as intimate.
In other states, there is what is called a “Romeo and Juliet Exception” (or something similar).
This provides a defense to the older member of the couple, so long as the two are within a certain number of years of age (like 1-3 years).
In general, lack of knowledge of the younger person’s age is not an exception (or a defense).
Other states put other limits on the elder partner if the younger is 17; some states allow intimate relations between 17 year olds and those up to the age of 21, while other states allow the older to be up to 23 years of age.
Each state is different, as far as whether there are exceptions, so you’ll want to check the specifics of the state where you live (or where the contact would occur/has occurred).
We recommend against just trusting a random website (like this one) or other forums if the post says “go ahead, have fun!”, even if the people answering the questions on the forums are attorneys, because different states have different laws on this topic.
What is being gambled is worth some additional investigation.
Staying Out of Trouble
The responsibility of staying out of trouble falls on the adult in an adult/minor friendship.
The minor may be interested in taking the friendship into something more serious or more physical.
The minor will not face the consequences that the adult will in the event that things progress beyond where they should.
If the minor starts to push the conversation into suggestive or intimate topics (in person, via text, or online), it is on the adult to shut down the conversation, and place firm boundaries on the relationship.
If the minor starts to push the friendship into something physical, the adult has to shut the activity down asap, and then take steps in the future to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
If the minor cannot stop themselves from doing things that encourage the adult, then the adult may have to avoid the minor or even end the friendship to protect themselves.
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