“Law to change to make sex between coaches and 16- and 17-year-olds illegal”

Changes to the law are set to make it illegal for sport coaches to have sex with 16- and 17-year-old children in their care in the wake of abuse and athlete welfare scandals across sport.

The sports minister, Tracey Crouch, informed parliament that the Ministry of Justice had agreed changes to the law which would bring the sport industry into line with other sectors. It is illegal for teachers to sleep with pupils under the age of 18 and for care workers to have sex with 16- and 17-year-olds but at present the same strictures do not apply in sport.

Anne Tiivas, the head of the NSPCC’s child protection in sport unit, said: “We know that some sports coaches spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex. Ever since the football abuse scandal broke we have been strongly urging government to close this loophole that leaves children in sports and other out-of-school clubs vulnerable to adults who want to prey on them.”

It is almost exactly a year since Andy Woodward’s interview with the Guardian, which led to hundreds of his fellow victims coming forward and the uncovering of football’s sex abuse scandal. There have also been allegations of inappropriate relationships between coaches and athletes in canoeing and archery.

Speaking at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary questions session, Crouch said: “A year ago, Andy Woodward reported historic allegations of sexual abuse in football. It was very brave of him to do so. I’m pleased to announce that I have secured ministerial agreement to change the law on positions of trust to include sports coaches.”

Full article here

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