Scots Govt: Turn a blind eye to illegal underage sex

Teachers, social workers and GPs should turn a blind eye to teenagers engaging in illegal underage sex, according to the Scottish Government.

The Government issued “muddled” draft guidance earlier this year which critics accused of weakening restraints on underage sex.

Now following the close of a consultation on the guidance a requirement for teachers, social workers and GPs to refer all children under the age of 16 who were sexually active to the authorities has been ditched.

Concerned

The news is likely to prompt concern that parents will be kept in the dark about their child’s sexual activity.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “I’m surprised by the guidance and parents will be concerned by this. It definitely sends out a mixed message.

“Teachers I know feel they have a responsibility to look after children and this puts them in a difficult situation.”

And Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “Any guidance on legislation should always take into account the possible message which will be sent out to our children.

Condones

“This may give the impression that society condones underage sex. While we are trying, and failing, to deal with the epidemic in STIs such unintended messages are likely to make the situation even worse.”

The Government has now confirmed that the reporting requirements have been removed from the guidance.

However, if teachers, social workers or GPs suspect that a child is at risk of harm they will still pass the information to the police. This will also be the case if either of the youngsters is either under 13 or more than 16.

Activity

Adam Ingram, Scottish minister for children and early years, said: “This guidance will help practitioners working with children and young people to effectively support those engaged in underage sexual activity, in particular where there might be a child protection concern.”

In June 2008 the Scottish Government proposed to legalise all sexual activity short of full sexual intercourse for 13 to 15-year-olds.

However, following recommendations by the Justice Committee, the Government agreed to dump some of its plans.

The Justice Committee said changing the law on oral sex would send out the message that such activity is socially acceptable and risk free.

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