Contraceptives for schoolgirls: Is it right?
Although most parents would like to believe that their daughter will abstain from sex until she is married, the truth is, for many this notion may be unrealistic. Thus should a young girl begin a sexual relationship, contraceptive use is imperative. Recent articles by the Daily Telegraph show that not only has the use of contraceptives by schoolgirls and college students trebled in the past two years, but that girls as young as 13 have been given the birth control jab or the contraceptive implant without their parents knowledge. Hence the uproar and backlash by critics and a number of parents who believe such easy access to contraceptives for schoolgirls will lead to an increase in sexual promiscuity.
However I can't help but wander if such measures should be seen as a ‘prevention rather than a cure’, in a country which for so long has suffered a tarnished reputation as having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe.
Teenage pregnancy rates
In 2009, statistics by the BBC showed that teenage pregnancy rates from 2002 had increased in the UK, with a total of 42,900 conceptions in under 18s and the an increase in under 16s with nearly 8,2000 pregnancies. Such figures showed a failing of a generation, whereby the lack of sex education in schools proved a detrimental factor in a lack of contraception awareness and sexual health. However recent figures have seen pregnancy rates at an all time low, with teenage pregnancy rates in Briton falling to their lowest level since 1969. Thus having contraceptive access in schools has, it can be argued played a large part in such statistics.
Contraceptive clinics in schools
An argument by critics and parents of contraceptive access in schools is that it will create young girls to undervalue the act of sex. The Master of Wellington College, Anthony Seldon extends this notion by stating that: “It devalues sex, it makes it like an ordinary, everyday thing like going to have a McDonald’s.” The fact that contraceptives facilities and clinics in schools help to prevent young girls from falling pregnant is completely disregarded in his argument. Not only do such facilities in schools provide protection for girls that are thinking about or maybe already actively having sex, it also effectively educates them on sexual health and awareness, which they may feel (for numerous reasons) they are unable to get from their parents.
Parents kept in the dark
It is understandable that parents whose daughters have had the contraceptive implant or injection without their knowing would be upset. It is always best for young girls to confide in their parents when deciding on such important matters such as whether they should be on contraceptives. It is not news that young people are maturing faster each year and in turn are becoming sexually aware at a younger age and sadly many feel like they can’t talk to their parents in regards to any issues that deal with sex. Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister argues that sexual health clinics and access to contraceptives, although any advice is kept confidential, “the health professional must always encourage a young person to talk to their parents about their sexual health.” Moreover, if a young girl feels that she cannot talk to her parents than talking to a medical professional I would think would the next best thing and would ensure that she is acting responsibly.
A rise in promiscuity
The argument that there will be a rise in promiscuity is unlikely. Previous figures have shown that teens are having sex whether their parents want them to or not. Therefore both contraceptive advice and access in schools will not promote them to have sex. It will just promote them to have safer sex. Attempting to control teenagers from having sex and thus demonstrating abstinence although admirable is not realistic.
Providing the best care
Contraceptive advice in schools for teen girls will provide them with a choice if they choose to have sex, to have protected sex. Surely it is better that they are sexually educated to prevent distress and impending motherhood. If and when they decide to have sex and in turn take advantage of the clinics and support that is on offer for them than they are showing far more maturity than simply having an unplanned pregnancy that they are clearly not ready for. Should they on the other hand choose to abstain, than that should also be celebrated.
Although the Daily Telegraph mentions schools offering the implant and the birth control jab, it does fail to mention whether or not condoms are being offered. Although hormonal contraceptives provide protection against pregnancy, they do not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases a risk factor that can have far–reaching consequences for the younger generation, and a risk factor that like pregnancy they deserve to know how best to protect themselves agaisnt.