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New advice for GPs on reporting underage sex

GPs should report all sexual activity in the under-13s and consider reporting cases involving 13- to 15-year-olds to the designated child protection lead, new Government guidance warns.

In children under 13 it would 'always be reasonable' to suspect harm is occurring, the guidance stated.

The recommendations list 14 factors that should be taken into account when making decisions on risk in older children, including coercion, behaviour and age imbalance. But contrary to speculation, the Government did not go as far as recommending mandatory reporting.

Dr Michael Wilks, chair of the BMA's ethics committee, welcomed the move away from mandatory reporting, but said: 'The guidance for the under-13s is open to misinterpretation.'

Dr Hugh Stewart, medicolegal adviser at the MDU, said: 'I largely expect this is what our members are already doing.'

He advised GPs to consult their defence body in such cases.

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