Schoolgirls as young as 13 are being given contraceptive injections and implants during lunch-breaks without their parents’ knowledge.
School nurses have given implants or jabs to girls aged between 13 and 16 more than 900 times in the past two years, a survey by The Daily Telegraph has found. Girls aged 13 have been given contraceptive jabs and implants on more than 20 occasions.
A further 7,400 girls aged 15 and under have been given contraceptive injections or implants at family planning clinics.
Under the patient confidentiality rules, nurses are banned from seeking the permission of parents beforehand, or even informing them afterwards, without the pupil’s permission.
Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, said: “I think that sexual intercourse is the very highest and most mature spiritual relationship that can exist between two human beings.
“Anything that trivialises or treats it as something mundane or easy, particularly for young people, is damaging their ability to grow up and to properly form a loving lasting relationship. It devalues sex, it makes it like an ordinary, everyday thing like going to have a McDonald’s.”
Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said sex under the age of 16 was illegal and “to facilitate such behaviour behind parents’ backs is unprofessional, irresponsible and morally wrong”.
The implants, which prevent pregnancy for up to three years by releasing hormones into the blood, are inserted into girls’ arms. The injections are effective for up to three months.
Earlier this year, parents in Southampton were furious after discovering that implants were being offered to their children.
A survey by The Daily Telegraph using Freedom of Information laws has now found that implants and contraceptive jabs are being offered in schools in Bristol, Northumbria, Peterborough, Co Durham, the West Midlands and Berkshire.
The number of girls given implants and jabs is likely to be higher as many trusts claimed they did not keep records or said releasing information would breach patient confidentiality.
In Bristol, which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, contraceptive jabs have been given to schoolgirls aged between 13 and 16 on 430 occasions in the past two years.
Schoolgirls aged 13 have been given the jabs 19 times, 14-year-olds 129 times, 15-year-olds 190 times and 16-year-olds 92 times.
The jabs are offered at drop-in sexual health clinics, called 4YP Bristol, in 16 secondary schools and colleges.
A spokesman for NHS Bristol, which oversees the scheme, said there was no requirement for either nurses or pupils to seek parent’s permission “due to the confidentiality of the service”.
In Northumbria, schoolgirls aged 13 have been given jabs three times, 14-year-olds 40 times, 15-year-olds 142 times and 16-year-olds 144 times.
Co Durham and Darlington NHS Trust said that up to 20 girls aged 15 and 16 had been fitted with contraceptive implants in schools.
Nurses have given contraceptive jabs to 14-year-old girls on up to 10 occasions, 15-year-old girls up to 37 times and 16-year-old girls more than 60 times.
The Heart of England NHS trust in the West Midlands has given contraceptive injections to eight 15-year-old girls, while around 15 girls aged 14 and 15 have been given the injections in Peterborough.
Contraceptive injections have also been given to schoolgirls in Berkshire.
In Southampton, 33 schoolgirls were fitted with contraceptive implants under a scheme administered by Solent NHS trust. Thousands of schoolgirls are also given contraceptive jabs and injections in family planning clinics.
Although teenage pregnancy rates in Britain have fallen to their lowest level since 1969, they are around twice as high as those in France and Germany and five times the rate in the Netherlands.
Dr Phillip Lee, Conservative MP for Bracknell and a GP, said he was concerned that it could lead to greater promiscuity and sexually transmitted infections. “I’m prepared to accept it [contraceptive implants and jabs in schools] but only if it reduces teenage pregnancy rates,” he said.
Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, said: “Young people under the age of 16 are legally able to access contraceptive and sexual health services and any advice given will be kept confidential. However, the health professional must always encourage a young person to talk to their parents about their sexual health.”
Article from Telegraph
10:32PM GMT 28 Oct 2012