Tackling teenage pregnancy
The action plan was developed from an international evidence base of what works in reducing teenage pregnancy rates. In summary, beneficial actions are:
- clear messages to young people about early sex and its associated risks, contraception, STIs and availability of advice
- sex and relationships education to enable development of positive and safe personal and sexual relationships
- confidential contraceptive services
- discussion between young people and their parents about sex and relations
Sex and relationships education, healthy schools and school-based health services
Current guidance on sex and relationships education aims to help young people through their physical, emotional and moral development and to develop the skills and understanding to make responsible and informed decisions to live healthy and independent lives.
The way forward is through the National Healthy Schools Programme, which reflects practice proven to be effective in four inextricably linked themes: Personal, social and health education (PSHE), healthy eating, physical activity and emotional health and well being.
Encouraging abstinence and delay as approaches to sexual ill-health
Concern is expressed that the median age of first intercourse has been declining for a number of years in many countries, while the reported number of sexual partners before marriage has been increasing. The most effective way to reverse these trends in young people’s sexual activity is by abstinence and information on sex and relationships. However, a distinction needs to be made between making support available for young people who wish to resist the pressures of engaging in sex and imposing an ‘only desired option’ approach.
Use of decision analysis in contraceptive choice
Use of effective contraceptive methods has been shown to result in substantial financial and health gains. The costs associated with pill and condom use are higher among younger people because of the efficacy in preventing pregnancy is lower in this group and the often unfounded fears about harmful adverse effects associated with contraceptive use. Since the benefits appear to outweigh the risks, there is a need to develop interventions that provide young people with the skills and tools to make contraceptive decisions.
Source: RCOG Teenage Pregnancy & Reproductive Health