Yesterday UK sports minister Tracey Crouch stated that sexual relationships between 16 or 17-year-olds and sports coaches will be made illegal, the Irish Examiner reported.
The usual age of consent in the UK is 16. Here in Ireland, it is 17.
However, current UK legislation prohibits that adults who are in a “position of trust” have sexual relationships with 16 or 17-year-olds. The age of consent is extended to 18 in these cases where the older individual has clear sway over the younger person, and could easily exploit them.
The types of people this extension of the age of consent applies to include foster carers, teachers, people who work in correctional facilities for younger persons, or hospital staff.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has been calling for coaches to be included in this list of adults in a “position of trust” for a while now. Cases of abuse in the sports sector that surfaced recently have made the issue a priority for the government.
Yesterday in the House of Commons Crouch said that more steps are being taken to keep young athletes safe.
According to the Irish Examiner, Crouch mentioned Andy Woodward, the former footballer who courageously shared his story of the horrific sexual abuse he experienced since the age of 11 with the Guardian last year.
She cited his harrowing case as one of the reasons why the government and those in athletics are taking the issue ‘incredibly seriously’.
It is not clear how soon this extension of the age of consent will be enforced, but Crouch noted that many sports clubs around the country already use such rules with their coaches and athletes.
Considering the number of allegations coming out about the sexual misconduct of those in positions of power, we are happy to see people like Tracey Crouch and others work to protect our children from predators.