There are no laws prohibiting an adult or teenager from dating a minor as long as there is no sexual contact of any kind, according to Dell Markey for GlobalPost. It is illegal for an adult 18 or older to participate in sexual contact with a minor under the age of 16 across America, but the age of consent varies from state to state.
In most states, the age of consent is 16; however, the age of consent may vary in some states depending on various factors, such as the age difference between the two individuals, reports CRC Health Group. For example, the age of consent is 16 in New Jersey; however, a minor over the age of 13 may participate in sexual contact with a partner less than four years older. In California, the age of consent is 18, and a minor may not participate in sexual contact with a partner more than three years older. The states may also vary in how strictly they prosecute statutory rape laws.
Though there are no laws regarding dating a minor, there are certain inherent risks involved, states Markey. For example, the differences in mental, physical and emotional cognizance between teens of various ages, such as a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, are greater than that of two adults with a similar age difference.