We agree with the Children's Commissioner that criminalising young girls aged 13-15 who engage in consensual sexual activity with boys the same age, as proposed in the Sexual Offences Bill, would be a retrograde step.
We want to see greater clarity about where the law and its implementation stands, as the current uncertainty is hampering young people's ability to access the information and advice they need to make positive decisions about their sexual health.
We are calling for better education for young people on sexual health matters, combined with more accessible services, similar to the Chill Out Zone, which we run in partnership with NHS Lothian and West Lothian Council.
Evidence also shows that being able to access such advice and support delays young people's engagement in sexual activity. Any change in the law, which could prevent young girls coming forward for such support, would be counter-productive.
We are concerned that the Government neglected to consult young people in advance of the bill's introduction. If it is to be delayed, we would urge the Government to use the opportunity to consult young people on the issues affecting them.
Anne Houston, chief executive, Children 1st, Edinburgh.