Never was there a minefield so thickly sown as any discussion involving teenaged girls, contraception and schools. The Grauniad enters it from the viewpoint of Lisa Hallgarten, director of Education For Choice which accordng to her Guardian profile is "dedicated to enabling young people to make and act on informed choices about pregnancy and abortion". The Education for Choice homepage is a little less nuanced:
supporting young people's right to informed choice on abortionwith helpful "Facts about abortion" and "Abortion resources" prominent. So we now know where Lisa is coming from in this debate...
The particular case which has provoked this article is one where 33 13-year old girls were prescribed a contraceptive implant at school:
The teenager is one of 33 schoolgirls who have been fitted with the device in Southampton, Hants, as part of a controversial government initiative to drive down teenage pregnancies.(Head in hands). I know this is Southampton, but even so... I note that "not having sex" was apparently rejected as a option, and that the contraceptive implant does SFA to protect against STDs.
Now she has broken her silence to defend her actions, saying she believes she acted responsibly by taking measures to stop herself getting pregnant.
And her mother insisted she was "proud" of her daughter, although she claimed performing a minor surgical procedure at school without parental consent was "morally wrong".
By the way, did the age of consent drop to 13 when I wasn't looking? If not, aren't the health workers here encouraging the commission of a serious crime? At the very least, why aren't they asking pointed questions about the person or people that the girl intends to have sex with?
Lisa notes, not unreasonably:
Everyone's ideal scenario is that young people and their parents have the kind of relationships in which they can discuss these issues openly and safely. For those who can't, most parents would rather their children did have the option of talking to a trained health professional than the alternative – which is no information or advice, no contraception and the risk of unintended pregnancy.The problem here is that there's something of a gap between "talking to a trained health professional" and "receiving long-lasting hormone treatment and actively encouraging unprotected sex in under-age children without parental knowledge or consent", and it's the latter which is causing more parents to be concerned. At the risk of repeating clichés: parents can't ask schools to give their children asthma medication, but the same schools can give their children contraceptive implants without even informing the parents. These implants let the children feel free to have sex without risk of pregnancy (because they have no other purpose) while leaving them wide open to acquiring STDs from their new-found friends. WTF?
Care to take this debate on, Lisa?
[Good Lord, I think I'm in near-complete agreement with Nadine Dorries. I need a lie-down.]