COUNCILS CHALLENGED TO DO MORE TO CUT TEENAGE PREGNANCY RATES
Local authorities across the country have been challenged to come up to the standard of the best councils in helping to bring down teenage pregnancy rates. The call came from Children, Young People and Families Minister Beverley Hughes as she set out plans to build on the steps taken so far to bring down conception levels in under-18s.
Latest figures show the rate is at its lowest level nationally for twenty years and that some local authorities have reduced their local rates by more than 35 per cent since the strategy began in 1999. The Minister said the variation in success between statistically similar areas showed how important local delivery was. Now in “Teenage Pregnancy: Accelerating the Strategy to 2010” the Government is calling on those areas that have not made progress to learn from those which have.
The new report also highlights how parents can have the biggest influence on a young person’s behaviour and says they must be better engaged and supported to talk about sex and relationships with their children. The strategy proposes action across a broad front but with supporting and challenging local authorities that are failing to make progress on teenage pregnancy as a key element.
Other actions would be supporting parents to improve their confidence and skills in discussing relationships, improving the quality of Personal, Social and Health Education, tackling the number of second pregnancies by improving access to support and information for teenage mothers and giving young people the aspirations and education to enable them to recognise the consequences of teenage parenthood and make sensible decisions about their future.
Beverley Hughes said the life chances of teenage parents and their children were unacceptably poor. She welcomed the fall in national teenage pregnancy rates but added, “I am not going to shy away from the fact that we must do a lot more. If all areas had performed as well as the top quarter then we would be looking at a national reduction of 23 per cent since 1999. So, local delivery matters hugely and it’s striking that areas like Hackney are leading the way whilst other more affluent areas are seeing their rates increase.”