A new drop-in sex clinic has been accused of promoting promiscuity after handing out free glow-in-the-dark condoms to teenagers.
The £45,000 clinic at the Shirebrook Health Centre in Derbyshire will offer teenagers aged 15 to 18 contraceptives and on-demand chlamydia testing.
The clinic is an attempt by Derbyshire Community Health Services to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate and cut sexually transmitted diseases.
Yet critics say the clinic will encourage sexual activity among teenagers rather than reducing Shirebrook’s teenage pregnancy rate, which is already significantly higher than the national average.
Andy Hibberd, founder of The Parent Organisation, said: “There is a very fine balance between educating and encouraging in this sensitive area, and handing out glow-in-the-dark condoms is definitely closer to encouragement than education.”
He added: “What causes us the greatest concern is not that the youngsters can get help, but that the Government feels it is appropriate for parents to be kept out of the loop.”
But Paula Newbert, lead professional in Sexual Health at Derbyshire Community Health Services, defended the scheme saying: “Primary Care Trusts across the country have been handing out condoms for many years as part of responsible sexual health promotion.”
Earlier this year David Paton, professor of economics at Nottingham University’s Business School, criticised the Government’s approach to cutting teen pregnancies.
Prof Paton said: “There has been a tendency for the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy to focus on creating schemes where teenagers can get the morning-after pill or other forms of family planning at school or clinics.
“The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour amongst some young people.
“There is now overwhelming evidence that such schemes are simply not effective in cutting teenage pregnancy rates.”