The other day I discussed with an antiped who conceded that, while children cannot legally consent to sexual acts with adults, they are nevertheless capable of literally consenting—that is, of willfully permitting an adult to engage sexually with them. However, this person retorted that, though children can literally consent, antiped laws operate under the assumption that "children don't know better." Their ability to consent, according to him, "doesn't make it any better." (Quoted are his exact words, by the way.) Needless to say, I was flabbergasted upon hearing such a ridiculous argument.
First of all, it is unclear what ethical relevance knowledge has when it comes to adult-child interactions in general. Indeed, virtually all such interactions involve a considerable difference in knowledge between adults and children with respect to the joint activity being pursued. For example, when adults play chess with inexperienced children, they possess more knowledge regarding legal moves, opening strategies, and basic rules. It would of course be silly to claim that this difference in skill makes chess games between adults and children unethical. As usual, this person failed to clarify what, exactly, there is to "know better" about sex that makes childhood ignorance about the matter ethically relevant exclusively with regard to sexual interactions with adults (and not with other children). These people routinely parrot this baseless idea, which they apparently consider a truism not requiring any sort of elaboration or support.
Secondly, this notion that "consent doesn't make" adult-child sexual interactions "any better" smacks of child rape apologia. Basically, this person believes that consensual sexual interactions between adults and children, which may or may not result in immediate or later psychological distress, are no more ethical than forcible sexual interactions between the two, which all but guarantee not only immediate as well as lasting distress, but considerable and even debilitating trauma!
The profoundly intellectually and morally bankrupt position of antipeds is a concerning spectacle indeed. Evidently, these people are in no position to be sanctimoniously mounting the moral high horse as self-proclaimed "child advocates," which they are wont to do. Genuine advocates for child welfare would be open to criticisms of their views due to the severely high stakes at hand; being wrong about these matters has the potential to result in tremendously harmful consequences. True advocates would never conflate possibly harmless activities with those that necessarily doom children to suffer. For the sake of the world's children, it is imperative on us to promulgate this message throughout wider society.