Agony aunts escape ban under new Scottish law

magazine industry has claimed a victory in its campaign against a
Scottish law that threatened to criminalise teen magazines for printing
agony aunt columns.

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP)
has been lobbying the Scottish parliament to make changes to a new
child protection bill that includes a ban on communication with
children about sexual matters.

According to TMAP, the law could
in theory have resulted in teen magazine writers and youth workers who
give sex advice being sent to prison.

But the Scottish deputy
justice minister, Hugh Henry, has now gone on record to say that anyone
communicating with children for the purposes of sex or health education
would be exempt from the ban.

Henry, speaking at the final
parliamentary debate on the bill last week, said: “There have been
concerns expressed in relation to sex education, sexual health advice
or indeed what may be included in some teenage magazines, and the fear
that teachers, doctors and journalists or editors might be caught by
the provisions in the bill. “I want to put it on record and to give the
assurance that groups or individuals communicating with a child about
sexual matters for the purposes of sex education or health education
will not result in an application for a risk of sexual harm order.
Before making an order, the sheriff would also have to be convinced
that the person presented a risk of sexual harm to a child or to

“Those who are properly providing advice to young people should therefore continue to do so.”

David Thomas of TMAP said: “We welcome the common sense on the record statement by the minister.”

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