Back in the late 1970s, I recall lesson one with a new driving instructor. He kept putting his hand on my knee. I felt very uncomfortable, cancelled my next lesson, but refused to give anyone a reason why. It seems nothing much has changed!
As you will know, it is a crime for teachers, social workers and other professionals legally in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.
However, many of your readers will be shocked to learn that those in other positions such as sports coaches, faith leaders and driving instructors, are not covered by these laws.
The NSPCC is calling for this law to be extended to cover all adults who could abuse their position of trust with a young person, helping to ensure there is better protection for young people throughout their teenage years.
Our ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign is growing – in addition to a 4,420- strong petition, sports clubs such as the Cornish Pirates rugby club, have joined the network of council safeguarding leads, national sporting bodies and MPs in backing our calls.
Survivors have told us about their harrowing experiences of how people have abused their positions of power in this way, and the effect this has had on their lives.
This shouldn’t be the case, and this legal loophole needs to be closed. Young people should never be expected to fend off the sexual advances of adults.
A review into the Positions of Trust Law is due to be released in the coming weeks. This is a significant moment for the Ministry of Justice to listen to those who were affected and safeguarding experts to Close the Loophole and make it clear that sexual abuse is never tolerable.
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email email@example.com. Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 or visit www.childline.org.uk any time of the day or night.