More than 30,000 girls under the age of consent have been given contraceptive implants and injections on the NHS over the last four years, Government figures have shown.
The figures reveal the extent to which NHS sexual health clinics are giving the devices to girls aged 15 and below, without parental consent.
Responding to the reports, campaigners warned that vulnerable underage girls are being given “a licence to engage in illegal sexual activity”.
The statistics were collated by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre.
They show that over the last four years the NHS gave out 21,700 contraceptive implants and 12,100 injections to girls who are under the legal age of consent – more than 33,000 overall.
Reacting to the figures, Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, and Philippa Taylor, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, both outlined the dangerous implications of facilitating underage sex.
Mr Wells said: “To provide long-acting reversible contraceptives to girls under the age of 16 is to give them a licence to engage in illegal sexual activity and to deny them the protection that the law on the age of consent is intended to give.
“Not only are these community contraceptive clinics condoning unlawful sexual activity and undermining parents, but they are also placing young teenagers at risk of sexually transmitted infections, emotional harm and abuse.”
He added: “The law on the age of consent exists for good reason – to protect young people. Where it is ignored, children are exposed to risk”.
Philippa Taylor stressed that: “A girl who is 15 or less is still a child”.
Speaking about underage sex, she said: “For professionals to facilitate it for such young girls, behind parents’ backs, is unprofessional, irresponsible and morally wrong.
“It utterly undermines parental responsibility and opportunity to protect their children, and exposes them to harm and risk.”
Commenting on the scale of the figures, she argued that the Government is “tacitly condoning, even encouraging” the sexualisation of underage children.
The Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Ann Furedi, claimed that: “Contraception and abortion are simply not the problem. They are technical solutions that allow people to avoid the unwanted consequences of having sex.”