Why giving contraceptive pills to 13-year olds is not the answer…
Perusing through the weekend papers, the headline “Which is worse: your child on the Pill or in the maternity ward” caught my attention, and had me pondering between the two.
I thought: “Why the hell would it be one or the other? Surely there is a third option: None of the above.”
But in a bid to prevent unwanted pregnancies, a pilot scheme from the NHS could get the green light in supplying the contraceptive pill to girls as young as thirteen.
I admit, I would much rather my daughter – should I have one – be on the Pill if I was pressed to decide, but when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t want her having sex at all at such a tender age.
Instead of a solution, I’m afraid this scheme may actually encourage sexual activities at a young age and become a form of incentive even.
Though it may seem like a decision that allows young girls to be responsible for their actions, there is the question of whether it’s somewhat reckless, given the fact that the legal age of consent is 16 – but something tells me that people have somewhat forgotten this.
The pilot scheme hopes to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies but in doing so it gives teenagers the opportunity to get the Pill without visiting their family GP and without prescriptions – which also means without their parents knowledge. Someone tell me how this is even okay? Call me crazy for flipping out, but I would be horrified if that level of discretion was available to my 13-year old daughter.
I know it’s been a good decade since my teenage years, but I never even thought about having sex at that age, let alone discreetly getting protection. Maybe it’s the fear instilled in me knowing that i would get the beating and shouting of the century from my parents should I wind up pregnant.
Suzanne Moore from the Daily Mail wrote: “There is no great mystery as to why a girl may feel her worth is purely sexual: It is the message pumped out everywhere.”
Moore has a point. The ways in which the media sexualizes females throw today’s teenagers into a world where sex sells and seems to be the only tool they have at hand to fit in with crowds and to prove how grown up they think they are.
But this shouldn’t be more powerful than a parents discipline and frankly speaking that is what is lacking in many cases.
The scheme itself isn’t a hugely smart idea given the fact that the Pill doesn’t do anything in the way of preventing STDs.
If anything, the Health Minister, Lord Darzi, should reiterate the importance of boys wearing condoms which goes a long way in helping to prevent both unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs to the parties involved.
Have parents thought about whether or not their child has the discipline to use the Pill properly, taking it every day for 28 days as instructed? Think about that for a second. This is why legal ages are in place.
The government will be working with chemists to ensure ‘robust standards’ and appropriate training, which is the least they should be doing for such a ludicrous scheme, but then there are so many flaws.
How are they going to ensure that the child they are supplying these pills to meet the minimum age requirement? How can they be certain that older teens won’t supply to children who fall just under the proposed age group? What’s not to say they will sell the pills, making a profit when they are available for free? As far as I know, contraceptive pills in neighbouring European countries are rather costly, and online purchases are just an eBay click away.
An identification process may be required but what form of ID would a 13-year old have? A driver’s license? A passport? What if they don’t have this at hand? How else are they going to make sure these pills are handed to girls of the appropriate age?
Even with this mountain of doubt, the reduction of teen pregnancies could be approached in a completely different way.
Parents seem to be phased out of this scheme with one mother saying in an interview preferring her daughter going on the Pill rather than ending up having a baby or worst than that – having an abortion.
Where is her stamping down on this issue and saying, “Neither. I communicate with my child and I’ve made sure she is fully educated on this”?
Where is the encouragement for both young girls and parents to openly discuss sex and the risks involved. This may be daunting for most teens. I know it was probably the worst thing I could imagine being thirteen, but if you stop and think about it, approaching your parents wanting to know more about sex shows a level of maturity that goes far beyond actually doing the deed while being unaware of the physical and emotional risks.
Parents have an obligation to their children to advise them and do everything they can to make them aware of such things that go far beyond being popular amongst their peers or pleasing a boyfriend they’re hopelessly smitten for.
If young teens are more open to ‘talk’ about their sexual curiosity with their parents, and they being receptive to advising and educating on the subject and guide their children, it may just be that this measure is a better strategy to tackle teen pregnancies.
Sex eduction in schools need to be looked at thoroughly too. The only thing I took from mine was how to put on a condom and watching a video that had a loose message of not letting yourself being pressured into doing anything you didn’t want.
Parents who are fine with their 13-year olds taking the Pill should remember that having contraceptives so openly available to their children doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be kept in the loop about their decision. Teens may feel that the protection at hand means that it is fine to go ahead and have sex but even though when used right and pregnancy is averted, does it include the emotional support they’re bound to need?
And let’s not forget, this scheme attempts to reduce teen pregnancies, the Pill only has a 99 percent success rate in averting child in womb. There is a margin of chance, that despite sticking to the instructions religiously, the Pill will fail them.
Rather than manipulating their bodies, enrich their minds. Schooling them appropriately will instill in them the information they need to make informed decisions.