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Nanny state overreach or reasonable protection?

By Scott Tibbs, January 11, 2012

I have often complained about nanny state ninnies trying to micromanage our lives with things like legislation mandating prescriptions for pseudoephedrine. This is yet another step in punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. So given my disdain for the nanny state, I found Reason's "nanny of the year award" interesting.

The age of consent in Michigan is 16, but that increases to 18 "if the relationship involves a school administrator or teacher," according to WoodTV.com. After a high school teacher had sex with an 18 year old female student, a Michigan state senator proposed removing the age limit. (See articles here, here, here and here.)

One of the criticisms of the law is that it is too broad and could have a 25-year-old adult education teacher go to prison for having sex with a 30-year-old student. That is silly and indicates the law was written in haste. The language should be tightened so that it only applies to traditional high school students.

But the main point of the law is reasonable. Because teachers have authority over their students and the power to influence the students' grades (and therefore their chances for getting into college as well as future career prospects) it should obviously be illegal for school employees to have sexual relations with high school students. The point is not regulating sex between consenting adults. The point is protecting students from possible academic blackmail.