‘Consult 8-year-olds on underage sex law’

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner says the Government should consult eight-year-olds on changes to the law on underage sex.

Kathleen Marshall says that since the new Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill will criminalise “sexual activity” between eight to twelve-year-olds, children in this age group should be asked for their views.

“If young people are going to be affected by the legislation, they should be consulted,” she said.

Mrs Marshall has already come under fire for backing a suggestion from the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) that sex between 13-year-olds should be legalised.

She said that the current age of consent law might be discouraging teenagers who have had underage sex from seeking sexual health advice.

Even after the ministers looking at the law rejected the SLC’s proposal, Mrs Marshall continued to call for the legislation to be delayed so the suggestion could be reconsidered.

The Scottish Government says it has no plans to consult children on the matter: “We consulted a wide range of organisations, and many representing young people, before introducing our bill”, a spokesman said.

Giving evidence on the Bill to a committee of MSPs today, The Christian Institute’s David Greatorex said we should hesitate before giving “too much weight” to children’s views.

“We would see the criminal law as having an advisory role to [children] to regulate their conduct and we would hesitate to allow them total freedom to dictate what that regulation should be,” he added.