Britain’s approach to the health and wellbeing of young people continues to provide a cautionary tale for parents everywhere. Nearly one in three (29 per cent) of secondary schools in England now has what people in the industry call a “sexual health clinic” providing at least condoms and pregnancy tests to children as young as 11. One in six schools gave pupils access to the morning-after pill or tests for sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia. And one in 20 of the clinics provides children with prescriptions for contraceptives — the pill, injections or implants — without their parents being informed, according to research by the Sex Education Forum, an organisation which welcomes the trend.
The figures were published just days after the government disclosed that in England and Wales there has been a 10 per cent rise in the number of abortions among girls under 16, and a 21 per cent rise for those under 14. The abortion figures prompted calls to make sex education compulsory in schools, starting with “relationships” education for 5-year-olds. Thirty MPs immediately signed a motion calling on schools to do more. The legal minimum is teaching human reproduction in science classes.
A doctor who runs a school clinic in Cornwall said it gave children a chance to get “confidential” support; if they went to a doctor’s rooms the might run into someone who knows them, including a friend or relative. He said he would prescribe the pill not on the basis of a girl’s age but their competence to give consent. “You may have someone who is 14 and does not understand the nature of the pill so we would not give it to them. But you may have someone who is 12 or 13 who does.” ~ Guardian/Observer, June 22
Access to the contraceptive pill became easier — and so more risky — this week in the UK with the launching of online sales by DrThom website. The company admits that it is unable to verify independently any information that users supply, and that “there’s nothing to stop somebody who’s, say, 17 lying about their age”. Other contraceptive and abortion providers plan to follow suit. ~ Guardian, June 23