As a female teacher is sentenced for a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl a national columnist argues for the importance of the age of consent law in protecting children.
The law came under attack last night when an academic on Radio 4 suggested that since many under-16s were having sex anyway, the law should be changed.
But Melanie Phillips dismissed the call, arguing that to abolish the legal protection of the age of consent would be to remove “all remaining constraints and worsen an already disastrous situation”.
She pointed out that “one of the reasons why so many underage children are having sex is precisely because the law is not being enforced”.
“The reasons for this are as various as they are irresponsible”, she went on.
“Sex is now viewed as no more than a recreational sport with risks, rather like skiing or horse riding.
“The collapse of both adult authority and morality has meant schools now invite even very young children to make grotesquely inappropriate selections from a menu card of both heterosexual and same-sex practices.
“As a result, whereas the protection of the young from sexual predators was once regarded as a progressive act, now it is viewed as a heavy-handed attack on children’s ‘rights’.”
Writing in the Daily Mail, the columnist also referred to yesterday’s news that 26-year-old music teacher Helen Goddard had been given a prison sentence for engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at her school.
The judge in the case had, however, refused the prosecution’s request that the teacher be banned from seeing the girl on her release because it would be “cruel” when the two were clearly still attached to one another.
“You really do have to wonder whether the adult world any longer understands what its responsibility towards children actually entails”, Miss Phillips wrote.
“As the barrister himself said, the girl was a ‘child’. As such, even if she had initiated the affair she could not be held responsible.
“Sure, children even younger than 15 now behave in a highly sexualised fashion. But they are still children”, she argued.