Scottish Govt may turn a blind eye to underage sex

Kids as young as 13 should be free to break the law and have underage sex as long as the sex is consensual, draft guidance from the Scottish Government says.

The Scottish Government provoked a storm in 2008 when they proposed to legalise oral sex for children aged 13 to 15.

It later backed off from the proposal, but legalised groping as part of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act.

Decriminalising

Now the Holyrood Government is consulting on draft guidance which weakens the restraints on underage sex.

Church and family groups say the move is “dangerous” and further sexualises youngsters who are already too pressurised to engage in premature sex.

The Scottish Roman Catholic Church criticised ministers for failing to provide a moral lead on underage sex.

Muddled

A spokesman said: “The guidance appears to be muddled and unhelpful”.

“Underage sexual activity has been shown to cause many problems for immature young people. Apart from the fact that it is illegal, it frequently leads to a risk of sexually-transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and sadly, abortions.

“With this in mind, Scotland’s adolescents above all need clear moral guidance, which unfortunately is not being provided by Government.

Mixed messages

“Such ambiguous guidance would present a mixed message which will make the job of parents dramatically harder as they try to set standards for their teenagers”, the spokesman added.

Dr Adrian Rogers, the founder of the pressure group Family Focus, said: “This decriminalises underage sex because you rely on social workers to provide impartial care that is based on law.

“It is very dangerous. This guidance flies in the face of the law, common sense and the duty to protect vulnerable children. We cannot afford the chaos caused when you neglect children in this fashion.”

Legislation

The draft guidance insists that underage sex is part of “typical sexual development”.

It also suggests that social workers should assure “the freedom of young people to make decisions about their own lives”, and turn a blind eye when youngsters engage in underage consensual sex.

But children having sex with adults and children who are sexually active aged 12 years or under, should both be automatically referred to child protection services, according to the draft guidance.

The consultation will be open until 23 July 2010.

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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