As someone who had 'sexual contacts' as a minor well below the then AoC, was encouraged and free to self-pleasure freely by parents, and grew up coming to not have any negative memories pertaining to those sexual contacts and experiences, it's puzzling at least to me why we need age of consent laws (as opposed to letting parents handle it.) When my Mom discovered I was seeing a galpal of her's (I was 16, she in her late 40s) the law was not involved in 'scaring her off.' While I initiated that relationship and was perfectly consenting, today some 30 years later we depict this sort of thing as something negative. Yet I remember it as being entirely positive.
Aren't AoC laws then denying pubescent persons their biologically given nature to desire and seek sex? When we hit puberty, sex hormones (testosterone or estrogen) begin being produced in our bodues resulting in an increased desire for sex. Yet even before puberty most everyone masturbates and engages in various 'sex play' type behaviours too. It's natural to engage in these behaviours and as scientific studies can attest, when adults/parents chastise children or attempt to suppress these negative outcomes follow.
You can consult the 'International Encyclopedia of Sexuality' fro country by country academic study of sexual development, ages where this behaviour or that behaviour manifest, and a wealth of other sex-related statistics here,
The point is that children and teens are sexual every bit as much as adults, but they're forbidden by law from being so. Is outlawing nature and natural biological and psychological development then ethical? Or is it in effect making minors (below 18) into a kind of 2nd class citizen where they're not extended the same rights to 'pursuit of happiness' everyone else gets and takes for granted?