Free Condoms For 12-Year-Olds Urged

CondomUNITED KINGDOM – Free condoms should be handed to children — possibly as young as 12 — in sports halls, shops and swimming baths, Government advisers suggested yesterday.
They also called for five-year-olds to have compulsory “relationship lessons” to drive down the number of pregnant youngsters.
The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy, which provides advice to ministers and monitors Government strategy, does not specify the age group that should receive the condoms.
But condoms should be “easily accessible to young people” and “new and creative approaches of getting condoms into the community would be the next logical step”, it says.
Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think-tank, was scathing in his criticism.
“Up until now we have always taken a dim view about people who go to swimming baths to talk to little boys about sex. Now it seems to be Government policy. This is not progress.”
Other critics said that the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy — based on education and the availability of contraceptives — had clearly failed, with rates of sexually transmitted infections among teenagers remaining high.
Gill Frances, of the National Children’s Bureau, who leads the independent advisory group, said: “No sensible person would give a small child a condom.”
However, she added: “We are not specifying an age.”
Asked whether the plan could include 12- or 13-year-olds, she said: “If a young person is having sex, he or she needs advice or support.”
She envisaged a youth advisory service within a sports facility, town hall or a school issuing the condoms.
The panel’s report says that longer-lasting contraceptives, such as injections and implants, should also be widely available.
The panel’s recommendations come amid a debate about how to cut the teenage pregnancy rate, the highest in western Europe.
The panel’s report says it is “critical” for the Government to “be brave” and make sex education — personal, social and health education — compulsory in schools “at all key stages”.
The youngest primary school children should be taught about “relationships and friendships”. By 10, pupils should know about menstruation, physical changes in puberty, and correct names for reproductive organs. Detailed discussion of sex would be compulsory for children of 11 and over and there should be lessons on abortion.
Current lessons left pregnant teenagers ill-equipped to “assess abortion as an option”, the report says.
On Monday, the Social Exclusion Action Plan is published. It will spell out the latest Government plans for tackling teenage pregnancy.
Recent figures show a drop in the teenage pregnancy rate. However critics say the fall in the “rates” — the number of pregnancies per thousand — can be attributed in part to an increasing population.
This includes a large number of Muslim families where teenage pregnancy is rare.
Behind the “rates”, official statistics show a rising number of girls under 14 becoming pregnant and the Government missing its target for cutting the under-18 pregnancy rate by 15 per cent from its 1998 level.
from The Telegraph

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