SCHOOL teachers and social workers are legally prohibited from having sex with teenagers below the age of 18 under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 but the law does not extend to sports coaches.

The Scottish Government, Children 1st and SportScotland regard sex with under-18s as “unacceptable practice” which should be punished under sports clubs’ disciplinary procedures.

The Scottish Government published National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland in 2014.

The guidance is designed for children up to the age of 18 – but notes the definition of a child varies in different laws and circumstances.

It states: “Young people aged between 16 and 18 are potentially vulnerable to falling ‘between the gaps’ and local services must ensure that processes are in place to enable staff to offer ongoing support and protection as needed.”

The guidance advises sport clubs to familiarise themselves with the National Strategy for Child Protection in Sport, produced by Children 1st and SportScotland.

The strategy includes Ten Steps to Safeguard Children in Sport for any club, Scottish governing body or organisation which provides activities for children under 18 years.

It states: “Sexual activity between adults and young people (16+) involved in the same sport should be prohibited when the adult is in a position of trust or authority (coach, trainer, official).

“Inappropriate or criminal sexual behaviour committed by an adult should lead to suspension and disciplinary action in accordance with [the organisation’s own] disciplinary procedures.”

The NSPCC children’s charity said this ban on sex with under-18s should be extended to sports coaches and youth workers.

It said: “Why should potentially vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds have less protection from abuse, by virtue of the setting in which the exploitation by a trusted adult takes place?”