More than 600 girls under the age of consent have been given the contraceptive implant in Northern Ireland, new figures have shown.
A report on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show showed that out of 609 girls, 21 were aged between 11 and 13.
The report also highlighted the fact that girls can be given the implant without parental consent.
Responding to the figures, the Love for Life organisation, which teaches young people about sex and relationships, expressed concern.
Chief Executive Judith Cairns said: “Our concern, which is consistent with any health message, is that it’s illegal to have sex at the age of 13 and under 16 you can’t really give consent”.
She continued: “We would be concerned for any young person having sex under the age of 16 and we would discourage it.”
The Nolan show revealed that, in one hospital trust, 177 girls who received the implant were 15, 48 were 14 and eleven were only 13.
In Northern Ireland children can obtain contraception under the age of 16 without parental knowledge, even though the law states that the age of consent is 16.
Contraceptive hormone implants are inserted under the skin and some serious side effects have been reported.
In January, freedom of information requests by the Daily Mail revealed that primary school aged children are among thousands of girls under the age of consent who are being given the contraceptive implant by the NHS.
Over the last five years the implants have been administered to nearly 10,000 under 16s including at least three ten-year-olds.
The findings attracted heavy criticism from Norman Wells, Director of The Family Education Trust.
Norman Wells said: “Fitting young girls with contraceptive implants is quite simply indefensible. It is giving them the green light to engage in illegal sexual activity and robbing them of the protection that the age of consent law is intended to give.”
He argued that a, “casual and relaxed attitude towards underage sex is exposing young people to the most horrendous abuse”.
Mr Wells continued: “It is deeply disturbing that parents are frequently left completely in the dark and know nothing about the high-stakes gamble that is being taken on the physical and emotional well-being of their daughters.”