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Controversial new Plans to cut Teenage Pregnancies

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 Controversial new Plans to cut Teenage Pregnancies

A very interesting report in the Mail (19 01 09) by Sara Nelson relating to girls as young as 13, may be given controversial contraceptive implants in a bid to stem teenage pregnancies

According to the report, a ten year campaign carried out in Barnsley to cut under age pregnancies has had no impact.

Hence the towns children’s services are considering offering contraceptive implants that can protect girls for up to three years.

Sharon Brook, chairman councillor of the Children’s services scrutiny committee argues, ‘The under 16s conception rate has had no significant reduction and it is not for the want of trying.

‘Everything is in place that can be in place, the problem is social. You do not need parental permission for contraception but it should always be encouraged.

‘Implants are favoured because other forms of contraception are easily forgotten. You cannot make people do anything; they have to want to do it themselves.

‘Implants go in and stay there - that is wonderful if people will have them.’

The recommendations will be submitted to the Cabinet next week for consideration.

In addition Brook adds, We have done an investigation into sexual health and STDs and if we can’t encourage young people not to have sex, we have to encourage them to use contraception.

More specifically Brook states, ‘Because it’s not just getting pregnant that is the problem, it’s also the issue of disease.’

Notwithstanding, the report will also recommend a review of the C-Card Scheme, which allows young people between the ages of 13-24 to obtain free condoms at specific collection points throughout the borough. There are 24 collection points at present, with a view to extending the programme in the borough.

Further sexual health advice training for secondary school nurses has also been advocated.

However, there are some concerns, according to councillor Fred Clowery who says, ‘Having a contraceptive implant for 13, 14, and 15-year-olds would give them the licence to go out and be more promiscuous. I am quite sure parents would be very concerned about that.

‘I would be concerned as a parent and grandparent if the council was going to start implanting school age children. If they are promiscuous there are other issues as well.’

With reference to a council report, its findings suggests that the campaign to reduce teenage pregnancies has helped the under 18’s, but not the under 16’s.

In looking at some statistics, the under 18 conception rate was reduced from 64.6 (per thousand) in 1998 to 49.7 in 2006 - a 17.5 per cent reduction.

Director of the Family Education Trust, Norman Wells, argues ‘It is grossly irresponsible for a children’s services department to show more interest in injecting girls as young as 13 with contraceptives than in discouraging them from having sex in the first place.

‘It is tantamount to giving them a licence to engage in illegal sexual relationships. We cannot think of any other area where the authorities facilitate lawbreaking, or at least set out to mitigate the consequences of unlawful conduct.

‘The more we invest in programmes to make it easier for young people to obtain contraceptives, the higher the rates of sexually transmitted infections rise.

‘There is no evidence that increasing young people’s access to contraception results in lower teenage conception rates. Instead, it encourages some teenagers to become sexually active when they would not otherwise have done so.

‘The problems associated with unmarried teenage pregnancy cannot be addressed by yet more contraception.

‘Rather than persisting with a strategy that has proved counterproductive, Barnsley needs to recognise the fact that the majority of under 16s are not sexually active and spell out to the minority the physical, emotional and psychological benefits of keeping sexual activity within the bounds of a lifelong mutually faithful relationship between a husband and wife.’

Fundamentally, there is a need to address the pregnancy issue as Britain has the highest incidence in teenage pregnancies in the whole of Europe. Moreover, figures from the Office for National Statistics show a shock increase in 2007, despite a ten-year Government strategy aimed at cutting rates by half.

The ONS published figures for under 18 pregnancies in England and Wales, which tend to run parallel and slightly higher than those for England alone, show a rise of at least 2.7 per cent in 2007.

The 40.9 in every 1,000 girls who became pregnant in 2006 went up to 42 in every 1,000 in the 12 months to September. Since the last three months of the year, to December, bring the highest pregnancy rates, the final figures are certain to show an even higher jump.

In England there was a 12.9 per cent drop in the rates between 1998 and 2006. The 2007 rise means that is likely to drop back to below 11 per cent.

2007’s increase in pregnancy rates mean that around 43,000 girls under 18 in England and Wales became pregnant - only 1,000 fewer than in 1998 and at least 1,200 more than the 41,800 teen pregnancies in 2006.

Furthermore a Government commissioned study has recommended a further implementation of sexual health clinics to all state secondary schools. Pupils will have easier access to emergency contraception and pregnancy testing without their parents being told.

However, one final question has to be considered. Does the state have the right to intervene over parents who have children under 16? Is this just not Nanny state giving our children mixed messages or is the stance from the Government a responsible reaction in reducing teenage pregnancies?

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