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Children’s watchdog calls for rethink over Bill

The children’s watchdog urged MSPs yesterday to delay proposed legislation that would criminalise teenage girls aged 13 to 15 who have sex with boys of the same age.

In written evidence on the Sexual Offences Bill, Kathleen Marshall, Scotland’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People, called for the plans to be withdrawn until research was carried out into the likely consequences. Professor Marshall believes sexually active girls may be deterred from seeking medical help if they think that they could end up with a criminal record.

Under the terms of the Sexual Offences Bill, which was published by the Nationalist administration in June, it will become a crime for children between 13 and 15 to have sex. The move aims to eliminate discrimination from the law.

John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Roman Catholic Church, said that the proposals would prevent young people from being exploited. “Do we really want to put young girls into a position where they could be coerced into sex?” he said. That view was echoed by Paul Martin, the Scottish Labour spokesman on community safety. “By decriminalising underage sex we would be sending out the wrong message to our children and also on adults who prey on our children,” he said.

Full story at The Times.

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