Call to consider lowering age of consent for sex to 15

Nov 17, 2013 by

Lowering the age of consent for sex to 15 should be considered by ministers, a leading public health expert has urged.

Faculty of Public Health president Prof John Ashton said the move would make it easier for 15-year-olds to get sexual health advice from the NHS.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Prof Ashton called for a national debate on the issue.

Children’s charity the NSPCC said it wanted to see the evidence for Prof Ashton’s claims before any discussion.

Prof Ashton said society sent “confused” signals about when sex was permitted.

Official figures suggest that up to a third of teenagers have sex before the present age of consent of 16.

Prof Ashton said lowering the age by a year could “draw a line in the sand” against sex at 14 or younger.

‘Recognise the facts’

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It’s time the adults started talking about the situation to take these enormous pressures off children and young people from becoming sexually active too early”

Prof John Ashton Faculty of Public Health president

The professor said: “We need a debate here. It’s time the adults started talking about the situation to take these enormous pressures off children and young people from becoming sexually active too early.

“Also to recognise the facts of what’s going on by the age of 14 or 15 so that we can respond helpfully to them and support them on this journey into adult life.”

He added: “I suspect we might be better off with it at 15 because the teachers and people who are in contact with young people would feel on a firmer footing pointing them in the right direction where they can get advice and contraception to protect their physical health from disease and other problems.”

The Faculty of Public Health, part of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, gives independent advice to the government.

David Tucker, head of policy at the NSPCC, said it would be prepared engage in debate on the issue after considering Prof Ashton’s arguments.

But Mr Tucker added: “Has there really been a significant change in the amount of young people having sex over the past 20 or 30 years? If it has changed, then is reducing the age of consent the most sensible way to deal with it?”

via BBC News – Call to consider lowering age of consent for sex to 15.

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