After the horror following reports of girls as young as 10 being provided with the contraceptive implant, a young mother, Megan Oakley, appeared on This Morning today discussing getting pregnant at 13, giving birth at 14, and the importance of contraception being made available to young teens.
I am in favour of contraception being made available to anyone whom is sexually active, or intending to become sexually active, but I am also aware of the arguements against it.
1) Children under 16 shouldn’t be having sex.
This is very true. Legally the age of consent is 16, so to have sex under that age is illegal anyway, and if someone over that age has sex with someone under 16 it counts as rape, even if consent is given. This is a serious issue. Even without the legality issue, there is the emotional impact of a sexual relationship at a young age. A young mind is not necassarily able to comprehend the serious impact that kind of relationship can have, and might not understand the potential outcomes, including pregnancy and STDs. Therefore, children under sex definitely should NOT be having sex.
— Children under 16 DO have sex. Losing your viriginity before the age of 16 is remarkably common. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise, STDs are on the rise, and underage sex happens a lot. Just because it shouldn’t happen doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. If these children are having sex then providing them with protection from pregnancy and STDs should be a priority.
2) The parents are negligent if their children are having sex.
If parents stepped up to the mark and educated their children, taught their children to have morals and respect for their bodies, then this wouldn’t be an issue. We should be tackling parenting issues to ensure the children don’t have sex in the first place, rather than just accepting that it’s happening.
— Not all parents are good. Not all parents care if their kids have sex, not all parents monitor their children’s whereabouts and behaviour, and not all parents are willing to put the required time in to their children to educated them against underage sex. It is a tragic truth that some parents are just bad. Unless you plan on imposing regulation (with all the compulsive contraceptives and parenting licenses such regulations would come with) you have to accept that the golden standard of parenting we all aspire to isn’t reached by most, even those who try.
— Sometimes kids with good parents STILL have sex. Our children are exposed to influences other than their parents, and even the best parents in the world are fighting against influences such as peer pressure and the constant barrage of over sexualised images in the media. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep children away from sexual pressure and, because nobody’s perfect, sometimes kids give in and follow the leader. No it shouldn’t happen, but no it’s not always the parents fault. It’s a battle we aren’t always prepared to face.
3) If a child goes to their GP for contraception, the parents should be reported for child protective issues.
If a child under 16 is planning to have sex, something needs to be done. It is a GP or nurses’s duty to protect that child from illegal and potentially dangerous activities, and sex is included. Therefore that role should include reporting a sexually active child to prevent the sex from occuring, rather than supplying the child with contraceptives which imply they condone the behaviour.
— Once you take the privacy and trust away from the relationship that child has with their doctor you may never get it back. And if the child knows they are going to be reported, and their parents will be in trouble, the liklihood is they will not go in the first place. If they don’t go they may still want to have sex, and thus they are exposed to the dangers of pregnancy and STDs. Instead GPs should provide contraception and the security of an honest and impartial relationship, giving guidance and advice on why they shouldn’t have sex, but how to protect themselves if they choose to.
4) Children as young as 10 can’t be trusted to take the pill properly or use condoms correctly.
Remembering to take the pill at the same time every day, or being able to put a condom on correctly, is a skill which apparently baffles many adults, therefore to trust that to children is pointless. It is more dangerous because they will think they’re safe and then go out and have sex, but actually not be protected.
— I am inclined to agree with this. A contraceptive implant takes that challenge away in terms of protection from pregnancy, and avoids the need to remember to take a pill. In terms of protection from STDs I’m inclined to believe that giving serious time and effort in to teaching children how to use condoms is better than not bothering at all. At least they have a chance at protection, even if it’s not guaranteed they will use it, which really is the case for over 16s too.
5) Giving contraception encourages sex.
Once you start handing out contraception to underage children you are effectively teaching them that underage sex is okay. It’s not okay so to act like it is is wrong.
— Great except the pregnancy and STD rates in areas that teach abstinence rather than contraception are shocking. Research has found that, compared to teens taught abstinence, those taught a comprehensive sexual education (including contraception) are 60% less likely to get pregnant/get someone else pregnant.
All of the arguments against providing contraception to sexually active underage children make sense, and are compelling. The idea of Miss Rose being sexually active at 10 terrifies and horrifies me. Indeed I will take every step I reasonably can to prevent it and keep her away from the influences in the world that might make her want to. However, I am also aware that I would much rather she be given contraception at age 10 than I become a grandmother at 37. I would much rather she be taught how to use condoms than catch gonorrhoea. The world we live in is changing and changing fast and as parents we need to keep up with it, but it’s easy to let it get away from you.
My advice is this. Teach your children to say no. Teach them to respect their bodies, respect their hearts, and wait until they’re in love and ready both physically and emotionally. Teach them about the dangers that come with sex, and all the negatives. But also teach them that sex is beautiful and lovely when done safely. Teach them to go to their GP or nurse with any questions if they don’t feel able to come to you. Teach them to listen to everything their doctors tell them, and that doctors are safe to tell their secrets to. Try your absolute hardest every damn day to stop your children from having sex, but also teach them how to do it safely when they’re ready.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!