Schools should provide free contraception to students, including those under the age of consent, to cut unplanned pregnancies, according to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The advice states that free condoms should be available at places such as “schools, colleges and youth clubs”. It says that the “full range of contraceptive measures” should be available at these locations, and if not, they should “offer prompt and easy referral to appropriate local contraceptive services outside the school or college.”
NICE calls for these services to be provided by school nurses, and that pharmacists should be able to dispense the morning after pill in bulk if necessary, effectively allowing teenage girls to “stock up”.
Despite under-16-year-olds being beneath the age of consent, the advice still says to “ensure staff are familiar with best practice guidance on how to give young people aged under 16 years contraceptive advice and support”. It also reminds them that they can give such advice “without parental knowledge or consent, in accordance with best practice guidance.”
The advice comes after the Office for National Statistics released figures on teenage pregnancies last month.
According to the research, over half of teenage pregnancies end in abortion. Some 5,432 under-16s fell pregnant in 2012, and 3,251 of those pregnancies ended in abortion – 59.8 percent of the total.
There been a drop, though, in both the total number of teenage pregnancies and the percentage of those pregnancies ending in termination. In 2011, there were 5,991 pregnancies, of which 60.2 percent ended in abortion; and in 2010 62.5 percent of pregnancies for under 16s were terminated.