According to figures recently obtained by Plan International UK, there is a disturbing number of sexual offences reported on Suffolk school premises.
It is clear that sexual offences in schools are being recorded across the country and that Suffolk is by no means unusual. The global children’s charity is calling for the Government to commit to mandatory sex and relationship education in schools covering sexting, consent, healthy relationships and the law.
It might be helpful for us to set out some pointers in this complicated and emotive area of the law. Remember that the age at which a child is capable of committing a crime is 10. The old rule that there was a grey area between the ages of 10 and 14 was abolished many years ago.
It is an offence to make (which includes downloading), possess or send an indecent photograph of a child. For these purposes, a child is anyone under 18. This can be confusing when the legal age for consenting to sexual activity is 16. But the “sext” does not have to contain a photograph to break the law. It could just be sexually explicit and offensive words. This is such a common problem nowadays that there is some help to be found for worried parents on the Internet, for instance at
If a child is 16, he or she can consent to take part in sexual activity. Problems often arise, as they do sometimes in later life, when trying to understand exactly what “consent” means. It is not that complicated if both parties understand that “no means no”. Inevitably, though, there are any numerous shades in between the black and the white. Try thinking about the issue as if it was all about offering and accepting a cup of tea. You may find the answer is in the tea leaves.
Very unusually, problems can arise where inappropriate relationships develop between someone in a position of trust, such as a teacher, and a child. Of course, if the child is under 16 than the normal rules apply and the relationship will be caught by the law. But, even though it has been the case for some years now, many people do not realise that any sexual activity between a teacher and the student under the age of 18 is also illegal.
How can our Sexual Offences Solicitors help?
The criminal law team here at Gotelee is here to advise on any aspect relating to sexual offending. You may be the parent of a child who is a victim and you need to speak in confidence before taking any action. Or your child may be under investigation by the police. Please get in touch on 01473 298141 if you think we may be able to help. We have offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Melton, Woodbridge and Felixstowe.