The Labour Party summer camp scandal - I think we can safely call it a scandal now - has thrown up many issues. One of which appears to be, at what age is a kid no longer a kid?

At 16, kids have a right to privacy, they can have sex, leave school, consent to medical treatment, leave home, drive, apply for a passport, change their name by deed poll, have an abortion, join a union.

Joining a union is the least of our worries. If only that's all 16-year-olds could do.

So who decided that 16 was the magic number for all these things, and what's the driver behind these laws? Who are they actually made for?


The bulk of laws like this appear to be designed to cater to the lowest common denominator. I think that's a problem. The lowest common denominator is the minority.

If we structure our society around pandering to the smallest group of people, then are we not failing the majority? What about good kids in reasonable homes with parents who care about them? Parents who want to know if their child has been sexually abused, to be able to provide support and care and guidance.

I know from having teenagers the same age that parental guidance is still very relevant to them. From school subjects, to sports fixtures, to life advice, to how long they should spend (or not spend) playing Fortnite on PS4 - 16-year-olds are still kids.

The bulk of them still live at home, still expect food in the fridge, power to be on, bills paid, and to be actively engaged in family dynamics. They are not autonomous islands existing purely for themselves, capable of running their own lives to the extent that they no longer need their parents.

And if they are, then they've left home and are making their own way in the world - and are in the minority.

So how is it the law provides otherwise? Well laws are a blunt instrument. Parenting and raising kids is not. It's nuanced and layered and complex, there are beating hearts involved, people invested in the lives and futures of each other beyond the parameters of laws and rules. Bloodlines and DNA beats anything a boffin wrote on a piece of paper in our so called 'collective best interest'.

Hearing people quote the 'laws' in cases like this summer camp sexual abuse scandal leaves me cold. I know from experience that schools will call you if your 16-year-old so much as falls over at a school camp - let alone has someone abuse them. So why Labour's falling back on 'but that's the law' is beyond me.

It ignores the reality and the morality of the situation.
It's an argument perhaps exclusive to people who've never tried to raise a teenager. Nothing wakes you up to reality like having teenagers and being around other people's teenagers.


I would hope no amount of 'but that's the law' would stop any other parent or adult telling me if my child had suffered or experienced something so gravely traumatising.

So as Labour looks to clean up this mess, it would be more respectful to families if they started humanising things, and stopped quoting 'the law'.