On Thursday next week, Kit Malthouse MP will be co-sponsoring a debate with Ann Coffey MP in the House of Commons on how we can better protect 16-17 year olds from child sexual exploitation.
The first marker by which we should measure our success as Parliamentarians, and as a society, is how we take care of the most vulnerable. We fall short of this on 16-17 year olds. It must be remembered that these victims are still children, they often in care, and often suffering from learning difficulties and mental health problems. Many have suffered chaotic and abusive childhoods. Despite their vulnerability the law presently offers them no special protection as they are above the legal age of consent.
Kit wishes to see all children protected properly by the law by making it an aggravating factor in sentencing for sexual exploitation when the victim is under 18 and also making it an aggravating factor to sexually exploit a child with a mental health problem, learning disability or suffering after a trauma. This will provide the tougher sentences needed and deserved.
Kit also recommends that existing guidance should be revised and made statutory to clarify that alcohol and drugs can never be viewed as adding to consent to a sexual act. He also echoes the Child Society’s recommendation that the age at which the Police’s Child Abduction Warning Notice is raised to 18 to enable them to intervene earlier. This should enable tougher sentences to punish people who groom children for sex.
Members will also explore the wider issues surrounding this in the debate. Kit believes that this is a matter that deserves our full attention.