Health chiefs have defended sexual health services going into schools, saying teenage pregnancies had dropped by 22 per cent as a result
– Girls, 13, given contraceptive implants at school (Telegraph, Feb. 7, 2012):
Girls as young as 13 have been fitted with contraceptive implants at school without their parents knowing.
The procedure was carried out in Southampton, Hants, as part of a government initiative to drive down teenage pregnancies.
As many as nine secondary schools in the city are thought to have been involved.
But it has caused a backlash from parents who weren’t aware that their daughters had been fitted with the 4cm device, which sits under the skin.
It is currently unknown exactly how many youngsters have taken part in the scheme.
Parents say they have been forced to inspect their child’s arm for any sign of the implant.
Health chiefs have defended sexual health services going into schools, saying teenage pregnancies had dropped by 22 per cent as a result.
But campaigners from the Family Education Trust say the implant fuels the flames of promiscuity by giving girls licence to have underage sex.
Norman Wells, director of the trust, has urged health chiefs to look at ways of discouraging sexual activity amongst children in the first place.
He said: “Schemes like these inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex.
“They can now tell their girlfriends: ‘You can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant.’
“They’ll tell them they don’t have to face the embarrassment of going to see their doctor, and it’s all confidential so their mum doesn’t need to know a thing.
“Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs.
“Health authorities should be looking for ways of discouraging young people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place.
“The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of promiscuity and the sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt.”
One mother, whose 13-year-old daughter was given the implant, has called the scheme “morally wrong”.
She claimed the school had gone ahead without consulting their family doctor.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the pupils had to simply fill out a questionnaire about their medical history.
They then underwent a consultation with health experts before receiving the contraceptive but there was a lack of follow-up appointments.
She said: “I feel really angry about this.
“I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far.
“To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing is morally wrong.
“I’m told a long list of checks were made before she had this implant but how many 13-year-olds are aware of their full medical history?
“I cannot understand how this is allowed to happen.
“Teenagers have the right to protect themselves and she did the right thing by seeking advice but to not be checked after such a procedure is totally wrong.
“Luckily I now know but many other parents are unaware their daughter has one.
“I have spoken to a lot of parents at the school and they were horrified to find out this was happening.
“As parents we want to protect our children and I feel that has been taken away from me.”
Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, has now been asked to look into the matter.
He said: “This contraceptive implant clearly requires a surgical procedure which ought to be undertaken in suitable and appropriate conditions.
“I am not sure whether the services that are being offered at the moment enable this it happen and that is what I am going to be looking into.”
Health chiefs have defended the scheme, insisting letters were sent to all parents at participating schools in 2009 when the service was launched.
It was then left to individual schools to inform parents of all future students joining, either by letter or in the prospectus.
They also say reports are showing that teenage pregnancies have dropped by 22 per cent since sexual health services went in to schools.
In Southampton there were as many as 136 pregnancies among 13 to 15 year olds in 2001 and 2003, this fell to 106 in 2007-2009.
A spokeswoman for Solent NHS Trust and NHS Southampton said: “We are committed to ensuring local young people are able to access clinically appropriate sexual health support.
“This helps them to avoid unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.
“One element of this is commissioning a sexual health service for young people that is provided in nine secondary schools across the city.
“The service is provided by trained staff and includes offering information, advice and support to students.
“It also includes chlamydia screening, condom distribution, pregnancy testing, providing a range of contraception methods and referral to other services.
“Since the service was introduced there has been a reduction in the number of under 16-year-olds who have become pregnant.
“The service is provided by Solent NHS Trust which undertakes detailed medical assessments for all patients attending any sexual health clinic.
“In addition, all young people under the age of 16 who visit sexual health services receive a full risk assessment.
“This is over and above national guidance and meeting all legal requirements.”