Govt adrift from teen pregnancy target

By staff

Latest figures show teenage pregnancies have fallen to their lowest rate in 20 years – but the government is a long way from achieving its ten-year target.

The government had promised to halve 1998’s number of teenage pregnancies by 2010.

Today’s statistics, which only cover up to 2008, reveal that two years ago the overall reduction in the number of under-18s conceiving amounted to just 13.3%.

Teen pregnancies actually increased in number in 2007 but this year saw a year-on-year fall of 5.7%.

“Teenage pregnancy is no longer a rising problem. It is important that we recognise the progress made by many areas in driving down teenage pregnancy rates,” children’s minister Dawn Primarolo said.

“Last year’s increase was very disappointing so I am particularly pleased that today’s statistics put us back on track. In the last two years alone local authorities and PCTs have redoubled efforts to tackle the causes of teenage pregnancy.”

She acknowledged that more needs to be done, however, and said pilots for one-on-one consultations for 16-year-olds were being launched today.

“These measures will give renewed focus to supporting young people before they become sexually active so that we can delay the age at which young people start having sex,” Ms Primarolo added.

The government spent an extra £26.8 million on promoting contraception last year.

But thinktank Civitas called on ministers to lower high teenage conception rates by focusing on education and the fundamental link between sex and reproduction.

“If we want young people to fully understand the consequences of sex it is imperative to clearly establish the connection between sex and reproduction from the outset,” Civitas’ family and education director Anastasia de Waal said.

“Furthermore, we know that in the early years of primary school children are very curious about ‘where babies come from’.

“Only once the biological ground-work has been firmly laid, should sex education move on to establishing that, using contraception, sex can also be purely about pleasure.”