Protecting 16-and 17-year-olds from sexual abuse

Last updated: 02 Jul 2019 Topics: News Type: News

Across the UK it’s illegal for people in a position of trust, such as teachers or care workers, to engage in sexual activity with a child in their care – even if the young person is over the age of consent

Legislation about abuse of position of trust is included in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in England and Wales; the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 and the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. The law aims to protect children from sexual abuse and specifies which roles are classed as positions of trust.

However, there is a loophole in this legislation. Adults in non-statutory roles such as sports coaches, driving instructors and youth workers are not classed as being positions of trust – even though they have regular and direct contact with children and are in a position of authority.

This means adults in these roles can abuse their power and engage in sexual activity with 16-and 17-year-olds in their care – without committing a crime.

Our film features young people talking about the campaign and demonstrates why it is important that the government closes the loophole in the law.

We’re calling on the government to #CloseTheLoophole in the law and make it illegal for all adults to engage in sexual activity with a 16-and 17-year-old in their care. This means making all roles where an adult works or volunteers with a young person under 18 a position of trust to ensure that no child is left unprotected.

Since launching the campaign in November 2018, over 3,500 people including staff and volunteers, have emailed their local MPs to express their concern and urge the government to reconsider their position.

Paul Maynard MP, who was recently appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary State for Justice, is now in charge of undertaking a review of the Position of Trust law to ensure all young people are protected and safe from abuse. However, we still need to keep up the pressure so that this law is changed by emailing the Ministry of Justice so that we can Close the Loophole for good.

Help us spread the word and share your support for the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


> Sign up and take action on behalf of #CloseTheLoophole


Safeguarding 16 to 25 year olds

Although young adults may seem more independent and resilient than children they can still be vulnerable to abuse. It’s vital that they are protected.

In association with the Ann Craft Trust we’ve produced an online training course to help people who work with 16-to 25-year-olds to keep them safe whether you’re a carer, volunteer, mentor or even if you’re a professional working in social care or education.

Our introductory course explains how to recognise, report and record safeguarding concerns about young people you meet and work with.


> Take our online training on safeguarding 16 to 25 year olds 


Other steps you can take to make sure all children are kept safe from sexual abuse

Make sure you recruit the right people to work or volunteer with children.

> Find out more about safer recruitment practices and processes 

> Take our online and face-to-face courses for safer recruitment in non-education sectors

Make sure everyone in your organisation knows how to spot the signs of child sexual abuse and how to respond appropriately.

> Find out how to protect children from child sexual abuse

> Take an introductory training course

Use our resources to make sure your organisation has got the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

> Find out more about safeguarding and child protection