By Christine Lavelle
THE NUMBER of schoolgirls aged 11 and 12 being prescribed the contraceptive pill has had a fivefold increase in the past decade.
More than 1,000 girls of this age group are now on the pill in the UK, and a further 200 aged between 11 and 13 have received the long-term injection or an implanted contraceptive device.
This suggests these underage preteens are planning on having long term sex, by avoiding having to take a daily pill.
Many of these prescriptions are being given out without any parental knowledge, but doctors are legal bound by a duty of confidentiality, which comes ahead of parents’ views.
Although the age of consent is 16, GPs can prescribe the pregnancy-preventing drugs if they believe an underage girl is mature enough to have sex, and do not suspect her to be a victim of abuse.
These astonishing new figures come from the general practice research database, which shows prescribing information from 500 GP’s practices across the country, covering a sample of 4 million people.
The results show that over 58,000 15-year-olds were given the pill last year – which has more than doubled from 23,000 in 1999.
Trevor Stammers, a member of the British Medical Association expert panel on sexual health said early sexual activity can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases that can, in many cases, cause infertility.
He said underage girls may also be vulnerable to psychological damage if they are being pressured by an older boyfriend.
He said: “These figures illustrate the fact that the UK is facilitating the sexualisation of young people at an even younger age.
“If sex education is introduced in primary schools in the way being proposed, we will see many more 11-year-old girls seeking contraception, and if we pay GPs to give out contraception without pointing out the risks we are going to make matters worse.”
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has proposed that children as young as five should be taught sex education.
Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said doctors are well trained to protect child welfare.
He said: “Every doctor would have a proper conversation with the girl.”