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01 / 07 / 2008 - Schools to open sexual health clinics to hand out contraception and abortion advice without parents` knowledge
Sexual health clinics are to be opened in secondary schools to hand out contraception and help arrange abortions.
Pupils as young as 11 will be able to drop in for free condoms, contraceptive pills, morning-after pills, pregnancy testing and screening for sexually-transmitted diseases.
Parents will be made aware of the clinics but will not be told if their children have attended.
Lutterworth Grammar School & Community College handed out 345 morning-after pills
Hundreds of schools already run sexual health clinics but many more are expected to follow suit after researchers praised a pilot scheme involving 16 schools in deprived parts of Bristol.
A research team from the University of the West of England concluded that pupils are more likely to use sex advice services if they are based at school. According to their report, the 16 clinics, catering for 11,805 pupils, received around 500 visits a month from pupils, most aged between 14 and 16 but some as young as 11.
The researchers tracked 515 youngsters over 15 months and found that nurses gave 55 girls the morning-after pill, with one receiving it three times.
Nurses also carried out 213 pregnancy tests for 137 girls and found that nine were pregnant.
One girl became pregnant three times and was referred each time to an abortion advisory service.
More than 100 girls were given the oral contraceptive pill or long-acting contraception injections, with 29 being referred for contraceptive implants.
The study also revealed that nurses advised just 26 per cent of youngsters in the sample - 136 - to consider delaying sex.
School-based health clinics are a cornerstone of the Government's strategy for reducing teenage pregnancies. More than 50 per cent of secondary schools in some areas already have them.
However, David Paton, professor of economics at Nottingham University's Business School, said: 'Pretty much all the research on school-based family planning clinics suggests they have little or no impact on teenage pregnancy rates.
'There is a possibility that such services change the behaviour of some young people and may increase risk-taking sexual behaviour.'
Chris Gardner, head teacher at Ashton Park School, one of the schools involved, said: 'Every parent I have spoken to has been nothing but supportive.'
Source : Daily Mail