LIFE, the UK's leading prolife charity, was outraged by yesterday's announcement that the Department of Health intends to set up clinics in schools, providing free condoms and contraceptive pills to children as young as eleven nationwide, in a misguided attempt to reduce teenage pregnancy rates. Nuala Scarisbrick, Trustee of LIFE, said: "We cannot believe the Department of Health still thinks that handing out condoms and Pills free to schoolchildren will help reduce teen pregnancy. It won't. It will only cause more teenage pregnancy, while doing nothing to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, incidences of which have doubled among the young in the last five years. "Only today we learn that one in three girls is having sex under the age of 16. This is a direct result of previous policies by the Department of Health. Is it the government's aim to increase under-age sex yet further? This will be the inevitable consequence of the latest proposal. It's like adding fuel to the fire. "Studies have shown that where there is more sex education there is more sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, and those teenagers who became pregnant are highly likely to be accessing sexual health services when they conceived. We have had thirty years of value-free, contraceptive-rich sex education in our schools and the UK still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe and, worryingly, incidences of STIs are rocketing. Why does the government believe this initiative, after the failure of so many similar schemes, will work? "LIFE accuses the Department of Health of failing our young people. By handing out pills and condoms while not warning young people of the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy or the emotional damage caused by early sexual activity, government officials are telling young people that sex is okay so long as you take precautions. But these precautions have high failure rates, expose young people to disease, and study after study show that this approach doesn't reduce teenage pregnancy rates. "Let's give our young people what they want. The government's Social Exclusion Unit's report in 1999 stated that: "Teenagers repeatedly told the Unit and other researchers that sex education is unsuccessful with their age group because it addresses only the mechanics of sex, rather than self confidence and esteem and how to talk about feelings." We should stop handing out Pills and condoms like Smarties and instead educate young people in all aspects of sexual morality, including the serious dangers of early sexual activity."
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