Shock rise in schools providing morning-after pill
THE number of schools in Suffolk which can offer the controversial morning-after pill to schoolgirls has dramatically increased in just a year, the EADT has learned.
Of the 33 secondary schools in the NHS Suffolk area, there are now 25 which can provide the emergency contraception to girls - without having to get permission or inform the student’s parents.
This is an increase from just nine in January 2009.
A Freedom of Information request by the EADT to NHS Suffolk also found that in 2009/10, there were 26 occasions when the morning-after pill was dispensed to schoolgirls.
Last night the Suffolk division of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it was concerned that the family planning message was not getting across to Suffolk’s schoolchildren.
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Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk division NUT, said he believed the morning-after pill was needed in some schools. He added: “I am disappointed that the number of schools providing the morning-after pill is as high as that.
“I do not think that the family planning message is getting across in Suffolk because of the fact that there are so many schools now with the morning-after pill. I think it may be that the warning is seen as irrelevant to some pupils and they do not like being given advice. You can only advise and if they choose to ignore it then the morning-after pill needs to be there. If you did not have it then you may start to get into issues with abortion.”
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Nurses at schools which allow morning-after pills to be dispensed to schoolgirls are not allowed by law to inform or get permission from the student’s parents - even if the child is under 16.
However, if they feel the student is at risk of harm or being abused then they can report it to the school and social services.
NHS Suffolk would not say which schools provided the morning-after pill or dispensed it on the 26 occasions in 2009/10.
However, it was reported in January 2009 that nine schools in the county provided the emergency contraception. They were Great Cornard Upper School, Stowmarket High School, Orwell and Deben high schools in Felixstowe, East Bergholt High School, Leiston High School, Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge and Stoke Park and Chantry high schools in Ipswich.
Last night a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said schools provide sex and relationships education which teaches the importance of a loving and stable relationship, respect, love and care for family life.
The spokesman added: “Evidence from the National Teenage Pregnancy Strategy shows that the biggest impact on reducing teenage conception rates is the co-ordination of both good quality Sex and Relationship Education with access to good quality contraceptive and sexual health services for young people.”
A spokesman for NHS Suffolk added: “A school nursing service, provided by Suffolk Community Healthcare, the provider arm of NHS Suffolk, is available in all secondary schools within the NHS Suffolk area. School nurses may dispense Emergency Hormonal Contraceptives (EHC) where this is permitted by the school. Not all schools allow contraceptives to be dispensed on their premises; according to our information there are eight schools where EHC is not dispensed.”
Information about sexual health matters for the county’s youngsters is available at www.ypsh.net.