Contraceptive implants – without parents’ knowledge

A school offering health clinics, which can provide contraceptive implants to schoolchildren without their parents’ knowledge, was last week featured on BBC Radio. While the head stressed that sexual health is only one part of the clinic’s role, a parent also interviewed said she sent her children to school to get an academic education, and thought most parents would object to children accessing “various sexual health services behind the backs of parents.” So is school the right place for such clinics? Read more and share your view .

“At schools in Southampton, girls as young as 13 have had contraceptive implants fitted – at school, and without their parents’ knowledge,” said Eddie Mair, introducing an item about ways to cut unwanted teenage pregnancies – a particular problem in the city – on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme (8th Feb).

He said the Department of Health was unaware of how widespread the practice is, as they don’t collate the figures centrally.

Advice on range of issues

Susan Trigger, head of Bitterne Park Secondary School in Southampton, explained that their health clinic is a very popular service offered to 1600 students who can access advice about a range of health issues that they may have concerns about. Sexual health is only one of them, but one which boys and girls may be very embarrassed to talk to their parents or GPs about, she said.

She also explained that the practice of suggesting contraceptive implants was very rare, and might occur if the student had been unsuccessful in preventing pregnancies previously – probably if there had been “repeat failures”.

On the issue of confidentiality, Ms Trigger said that it was the same as if a GP offered advice: “Health clinics in schools are no different to any medical advice, that has to be confidential.”

‘Assault on parents’ authority’

But parent Christine Hudson, whose daughter was at a different school – in Plymouth – said there the nurse offered a fortnightly ‘signposting clinic’ where children could “access various sexual health services behind the backs of parents.”

“I’m sure that most parents would object to this because it’s an assault on their authority, because they are the primary educators,” she said.

“The Department of Health and Healthy Schools guidelines all say that if these services are going to be put into schools, there must be wide consultation with parents. Certainly at the school my daughter was at, there was none,” said Ms Hudson, who also added that she thought if boys knew that girls are on contraception, they would be pressuring them for sex.

‘Open and honest approach’

Headteacher Susan Trigger responded that it was important to involve parents, and that the open and honest approach at Bitterne Park School meant that it had been “highly successful in reducing pregnancies to zero, and across Southampton resulting in a 22% reduction.”

“Parents don’t give permission for their children to have sex either, never mind an implant, and if they try to deny and prevent this, these issues go back underground,” she said.

Quoted in Southampton’s Daily Echo newspaper, health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The law is very clear that if a child is competent and has the capacity to make a decision herself, the health professional concerned does not have the right under the law to overturn that without consent.”

The Echo reported Mr Lansley saying that all NHS staff could do was advise a child to consult her parents as well as give information about different types of contraception and any risks, and that the NHS had a duty to run a confidential sexual health service.

You can hear an interview with Susan Trigger on BBC Radio 5 here.

Should children be offered contraception via school clinics – and without their parents’ knowledge? What’s your view?


23 thoughts on “Contraceptive implants – without parents’ knowledge

  1. As a teacher in a ks4 sebd/ alternative provision facility I set up a similar sexual health step in 2years ago. We offer condoms, chlamydia testing and pregnancy testing in house as our young people are some of the most vulnerable and most unwilling to access these resources through their own GP’s etc. Myself and another member of staff work accessed training and support from Brook and other sexual health schemes in our area and we also offer a LARC clinic once a week where a Brook nurse comes in to provide the Pill, injections, patches etc. we started these services when we had 3 teenage pregnancies in one year group and since establishing it we have found it to be a service very much appreciated by our young people. Parents are made aware of our services when they come and look round and we have had no complaints as parents seem to realise that effective sex and relationship education and access to services do NOT make young people sexually active, they simply help keep them safe and healthy.

  2. I would not want my 16 year old daughter to have contraception through school. I would like to think that there is morerestraint, maturity and responsibilty in seeking advice from the G.P. Andif possible, consulting with the parent. I think making contraception so easily available would encourage sex without commitment and would encourage promiscuous behaviour. I think advice should be available without providing the ammunition. .

  3. I would not want my 16 year old daughter to have contraception through school. I would like to think that there is more restraint, maturity and responsibilty in seeking advice from the G.P. And if possible, consulting with the parent. I think making contraception so easily available would encourage sex without commitment and would encourage promiscuous behaviour. I think advice should be available without providing the ammunition. .

  4. The introduction of implants without the knowledge of parents in a way can cause serious problems since the students will be rest assured if they do it they wont become pregnant and parents wont b keeping a close eye on their children. Teenagers are sexually active and like experimenting with their bodies. This will önly address the problem of pregnancy but on the other hand encouraging promiscuity. Why cant the school the school provide sex education instead of implants. Children are children,they are vulnerable,easily deceived by material things in exchange for sex so dont give them room for practising unprotected sex. They need proper guidance. In other words introducing implants means failure on the side of teachers and parents to guide children. Contraceptions i think are meant for adults who can decide on their own despite the repurcusions and effects.

  5. To put it simply and bluntly, providing sexual health and contraceptive methods at schools is the lesser of two evils! It’s either that or unwanted teenage pregnancies, with all that entails.

  6. I believe I heard the BBC radio programme state that 700 girls in the Southampton area had the implants. Let’s face it the government don’t trust parents to parent and want the schools to take over. Hence all the breakfast and homework clubs in order to let them spend as little time as possible with those nasty parents. Don’t get me wrong some parents had their children at a very young age and the chances of their children doing the same are high. The sting in the tail for schools is that the press and government who like to blame them for all the ills of society will have more ammunition. Personally I would refuse as a teacher to supplant parental rights.

  7. No because far too many young people admit to having felt pressurised into having sex at too early an age. They feel regret at a later stage. Involving parents in these matters should help young people come to a decision that leads to fewer regrets. Schools should do far more to teach about relationships in greater depth encouraging a greater sense of self-esteem amongst vulnerable young people.

  8. I agree with Terry – I have a teenager and would prefer prevention rather than cure, i.e. abortion. I don’t believe that access to contraception encourages teenagers to experiment with sex – they don’t need any encouragement! Empower them with the knowledge to take responsibility for their actions rather than treating them like children. I am sure the vast majority don’t want an unplanned pregnancy or a STI and would appreciate being treated as young adults.

  9. No way,children should NOT be offered contraception via school clinics and that tooo WITHOUT their parents knowledge!!!! Advice can be given but that’s it.
    We send our children to school for academic and sports education and not to be given contraception.
    A child may be competent but is still not mature enough to make a decision in this issue
    and according to me PARENTS are the only best people to inform and guide their children about sex.

  10. this form of contraceptive is invasive and does not work for everyone. i had to be on the pill and i had the implant. putting a foreign body into your arm..just a no i think. Its not the parents right to know, its something they should be able to talk to their child comfortably about and give their opinions for and against. i think this takes away a vital part of growing up and child to parent bonding. Its horribly embarrassing for both, but if done correctly it can form a bond between the parent and child opening up a new found relationship which may give the child more confidence to speak to their parents about anything.

  11. To be honest parents have the most responsibly in this type care for their children, if the school offers to help, it should be thoroughly discussed with the parents.

  12. To be honest parents have the most responsibly in this type of care for their children, if the school offers to help, it should be thoroughly discussed with the parents.

  13. To be honest parents have the most responsibly in this type of care for their children, if the school offers to help, it should be thoroughly discussed with the parents. Contraceptive -implants without parents knowledge is like given drugs to children behind their parents back, then what happens if there are side reactions?.

  14. Who is responsible for behaviour of a minor? If minor is truanting then parents are responsible.
    Contraceptive on demand encourages irresponsible sexual behaviour and OBJECTIFIES females.
    School girls are not MATURE enough to make that kind of decisions.We need to bring in sexual education as a part of national curriculum . Sexual curriculum needs to be designed by a body of proffesionals like Psychologists, Teachers, Medics etc. and not reps of companies that manufacture contraceptives.
    Education thou is not enough, otherwise there would not be so many abortions amongs the adult population.
    Ultimately parents are responsible for behaviour of their children, society needs to revise the culture and clinics in schools will solve nothing..
    We, adults need to care for sexual and EMOTIONAL helth of school children. Sexual act is also an emotional act.

  15. This could be viewed as an Assault on the child. Also, as the legal age for sex is 16, for the state to implant contraceptives into our young without telling their parents is tantamount to grooming them for sex (if you really think about it). If the “state” didn’t expect your children to have sex before 16 this wouldn’t be happening. I used to presume that those who think this is the lesser of two evils were against paedophilia. Now the edges are blurred, this is no longer straightforward.

    By the way, figures show that the more sex education children receive in schools,(usually semi-pornographic, when held up to scrutiny) the higher the teen pregnancy rate goes.

    Parents should fight back.

  16. Terry, to visit any type of evil on children is wrong, but I see you are will to visit the lesser of two of evils – shame on you. Because Adults will not ‘abstain’ from using their sexuality prematurely, we see no reason why school children should not also experience the same choice – this is weak moral adult leadership. To cut out parents furthers the evil, if people like Terry are willing to cut them out the deal then we are saying that our agenda is greater than theirs – but clearly we are there to serve parents. If we want young strong characters who are able to say ‘no’ to sex then we know what the answer is to this issue, but do we have the strong moral fibre to support our young…….or are we weakly giving in and presuming pregnancies have to occur.

  17. Just as how schools want parents to get involve in children learning and development, the school should also get the parents involve in this matter on contraceptive. There should be an open dialogue with parents, child and school’s representative with regards to the issuing of contraceptives.

  18. These days children are being treated more and more like responsible adults. The parents are told that it’s their responsibility – it’s your child, only when it all goes wrong and it’s too late. When the parents refuse to take on their responsibility at this late stage then they are threatened by the state. What an ‘upside down world’.

    But why should we be suprised? This is what the bible said would happen over 2000 years ago!

  19. Unfortunatly a lot of pupils do not live in secure families, whrere sex educatioin is not discussed. The reality is a lot of pupils do not have a good relationship with their parents, and they do spend a lot of time within an education establishment. It is true that better and informed sex education is the better path to take, but resources are scarce as is money. Having a computerised baby, that cries, needs to be fed and changed works really well, as it give experience to the girl of what brining up babys is really like, and there is data that is recorded, which is helpful. It works really well. But excluding parents I feel is not a good idea, as it errodes an already undermind parents authority. But if the parents are not interested/capable, then someone has to be. ALL contrception advice and administration should be avalible to the parents, it should be transparent. But if the parents are not interested then a mentor should be with the girl to support and advice her. But really the church should be there to help, support and be an example to the World.

  20. State interference supplying implants attempts to deal with the effects but cannot address causes which may be several. To have parents who are properly committed to each other where there is love shared, sets a good example to their children and other people’s children as well.
    The Bible says, ‘ Train up a child in the way he or she should go and when they are older they will not depart’. No one is perfect but the local church and community can be supportive.

  21. Educating children on sexual issues , offering them preventive methods against STDs and perhaps refering them to Medical specialists to discuss further treatments are in my opinion very good ideas but if as a parent I am legally responsible for my child until she/he reaches 18 I should be legally informed and consulted on any invasive proceedure or surgeries. Parents should be able to visit a clinic and discuss the options with their children and medical staff. Some parents could do with being educated too and some kids should realise that sexuality comes with responsibilities such as honnesty.

  22. Schools should not provide contraceptive devices to children without their parents consent.
    If provided, the results would be shocking and will be disastrous for their future(especially their education).
    It should be the responsibility of the parents to educate their children about sex.
    I wonder,how many parents are fulfilling their responsibilities.

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