Cadet Relationships


Ok, firstly, this is a voluntary organisation; not much more that a youth club.

The ACO gets wound-up about Safeguarding and is paranoid about accusations of child abuse. However, if both sets of parents are content with the relationship then the ACO has absolutely no business sticking it’s nose in. Furthermore, comments about chain-of-command etc are old-school and not in touch with REALITY. I met my wife in the RAF in the early 90s whilst she was a sgt and I was a flt lt; guess what, no issues!

Get on with your relationship but it’s not a bad idea to tell your CO. If he’s a half decent CO he’ll probably already know. If you or he feel that there is an issue then both should have the wherewithal to discuss.


If you are seeing favouritism within the ACO, especially if it is of the level that you describe, then the people responsible for having said favourites need to be hauled across some very hot coals. That is not tolerated in any squadron I have been a part of and should not be tolerated anywhere else.



If I was your OC I would gain confirmation from the parents of the younger cadet that they are comfortable with the relationship. I would inform my Wing CPO of the situation and then run with the standard advice, which is keep it out of the Corps and don’t let it interfere with yours or her behaviour. If you are retained after you turn 18 and she turns 16 within a couple of months of so then also no problem. Only two years between you after all. Don’t break the law and behave sensibly and there will be no issue.


Do get serious. This sort of favouritism has been around since I was a cadet and before. Even as cadets we knew who was going to get things and now cadets still know and aren’t generally surprised. If you reported and complained the cadet award system would crumble overnight. I bet every Dacre nominee is a favourite in their Wing and spoken about in glowing terms.

You can guess every prize winner in the Wing’s annual awards quite easily as they will come from a very small pool of favourites. When I was CO, and a little bit more in the know, I guessed the main awards each year, just by knowing which cadets people were talking about gushingly (or being referred to by nicknames) by Wing Staff and a percentage of sqn staff. Even now when the winners are announced once you find out they play sport or are up some backsides, you see them go through them year on year. I did suggest that once a cadet had won of the Wing Awards they shouldn’t be nominated again and it should be based purely on that calendar year with sqn attendance a major point*, not an accumulation over several years. Didn’t go down very well.
When I was a CO cadets and staff knew I wasn’t impressed by past glories and achievements. Now though it’s done on an accumulative basis, although when asked for nominees I still show no bias for last year’s stars.


Depends on how you define “star” - if it is someone who has consistently turned up for sports events over 2 - 3 years, with a healthy & continuing number of successes, perhaps it’s not fair to discriminate against them - is the "one year only’ star a long-term prospect or a flash in the pan?

However, just for being a Wg favourite = definitely no.


I can’t see they’ll be bothered and seen this before. It’s a private matter and not for us to get involved in, unless one or other is much younger. In my experience as staff you have to approach this like you do as a parent and it’ll blow over.

For anyone thinking this is new it isn’t.
I first saw it as a cadet when girls first started in 1980, two girls on a squadron which was designated as being able to taking girls, went through several boys on the squadron and around the Wing, causing all sorts of chaos, and, when we first took girls, it wasn’t long before we got one who did the same. For balance boys who fancy themselves as lady’s men are no better and create similar havoc.


This is the official policy on this issue, my bold on the relevant text.

Taking a pragmatic viewpoint…

Did the relationship begin before one of you turned 18? If no, then your not in the wrong, the 18 year old is as this will have been covered on their Staff Cadet Course. If yes, given the age gap is a matter of months, common sense dictates to allow it to continue as there is no abuse of trust as no one was in that position.

This is where the problem lies, once staff are made aware of the relationship, we have a duty to report to the Wing Child Protection Officer & WEXO, who will then arbitrate using the training they have had, and seeking guidance from HQAC.

How many months until you are 18? Can you “pause” the relationship for this period, remaining as close friends until you are both legally adults and the ATC will cease to care what relationship you have with each other, providing it doesn’t effect the squadron dynamics.


The presumption of there always being a sexual relationship is amusing and this seem to be the only thing that the Corps is vaguely interested in like some perv with binoculars looking into neighbour’s windows. There are many, many more important areas of safeguarding yet we only have any real interest in, is one, because someone who has done an extra course can play God. I was chatting to someone who has been to ATF on an initial and had the safeguarding chat, asked some questions about some of the more serious safeguarding problems and got chinned off.

If I can’t deal with this sort of thing myself without getting people who know little more than I do involved, then it’s a sad day. Common sense has to be the arbiter and parental concern. If the latter isn’t forthcoming we are on dodgy ground saying what can and can’t happen. Many schools now have integrated 6th Forms, so what do they do if an 18 year old gets involved with a 16/17 year old?

Who is to say that the under 18 isn’t the one initiating / making the moves? What then? Who is exploiting who?

As a young bloke “getting off” with someone a bit older was always more appealing than the other option.


I would be rather unbothered to be frank. Probably more disappointed in the need for your ex to snitch on you.

I, for once, echo Teflon here, the ACP doesn’t like Sexual relationships, how would anyone prove there is one?

Also Teflon, the sixth form issue is straightforward, the 18+ students don’t have any duty of care over the others, so there are no obvious issues.


I’m not sure it’s that straightforward and wouldn’t mean they wouldn’t have to deal with concerns from parents.

Would you be happy if your 11/12/13/14/15/16 year old daughter was being ‘courted’ by an 18 year old and the school dismissed your concerns on those grounds?


Well for starters if they were 11/12/13/14/15 then it would be illegal, if they were 16+ then I can’t see much of an issue if everything else is OK.


But could the school ignore it, based on the grounds there is no duty of care, which seemed to be the suggestion?


Stop picking and choosing what you read. They are saying that an over 18 student doesn’t have a duty of care over their fellow pupils. If they had a relationship with someone 16+ they wouldn’t care as it’s legal. If they had a relationship with a below 16 they would probably take more interest.


Not picking and choosing, it’s interpreting, there is a difference.


No. You’re choosing what to reply to based on your own agenda. That’s not interpreting. You’ve clearly ignored half of what was said and are twisting it to suit your own needs.


… and it may well still be legal. As stated earlier, there’s an assumption here that everyone is bonking like rabbits the second they enter a relationship. The whole staff cdt/under18 thing is so pre-judgemental it’s laughable.


“Bloggs, are you dipping your tadger somewhere you shouldn’t be?”

“No Sir”.

"Smith, is Bloggs giving you Friday Night Knee Tremblers?

“No Sir”



Possibly better put as " If I thought you two were having a sexual relationship I would have to report it to Wing for full investigation, so you need to answer one question yes or no. Are you two having a sexual relationship?"

If they are daft enough to answer “yes”, then they know what is going to happen (If one of them is that daft why is he/she a staff cadet?)


Have you ever been 17/18 and in love?!!


But it has to be to create a job for someone.

We as an organisation don’t have the necessary agreements to share information (mates of mine in probation and who work in schools have mentioned these agreements) about real safeguarding issues. So someone in the ATC hierarchy with no grasp of the broader spectrum of safeguarding just gets all excited about one small aspect. Which invariably only come to light historically (ridiculously), after the damage has been done and perpetrators either dead or had a life.

Safeguarding is about prompt action within 24-36 hours and getting the appropriate agencies involved, not email someone who lives miles away, who has little more idea than you do to do something two days later.

The OP here is of no consequence regardless of the book might say. If a WExO or Wing CPO got excited about this, they need to get a grip.