Underage sex exempt from mandatory reporting under new child protection law

Mandatory reporting of illegal sexual activity involving minors will not apply to consensual sex between “older teenagers” under the government's proposed new child protection laws.teensex.jpg

The Irish Independent reports that the Children First Bill 2014, which could become law by next year, will make it mandatory for certain professions and post-holders to report incidents of harm, and the risk of harm, to the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

It applies to professions including doctors, teachers, social workers and gardai ,members of the clergy, pre-school and childcare staff; as well as child protection officers of religious, sporting, cultural, recreational and educational organisations offering services to children.

However, according to Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the bill does not require mandatory reporting in cases where a young person aged 15 to 17 is engaged in consensual sexual activity with someone who is less than two years older than them, as long as the professional concerned “knows or believes that there is no material difference in capacity or maturity between the two young people.”

It's not clear whether professionals will be obliged to notify parents in situations like this.

The Irish Independent also reports that Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, a former Supreme Court Judge, warned that the rights of unmarried fathers who do not live with their partners will not be improved under the government's propesed Children and Family Relationships Bill, which was championed by the former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.