Teenagers should be allowed easy access to contraception, abortion and the morning-after pill at school sex clinics without their parents knowing, a report says.
Following a 15-month pilot scheme in Bristol, researchers at the University of the West of England concluded that teenagers were more likely to access sexual health services if they were located at school.
The scheme was run by the pro-abortion sexual health advice provider, Brook. Parents were allowed to know that a clinic was open at their child’s school, but could not find out if their child had attended.
The trial took place across 16 secondary schools, and most visitors were aged between 13 and 16, though some were as young as eleven.
The results of the study showed that nurses at the clinics provided 72 per cent of the 515 young people who came to see them with condoms, while 109 girls were given the combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill.
Of the 55 girls given the morning-after pill, 45 were sent away with condoms and 24 were given COC pills.
Nurses undertook pregnancy tests for 137 girls, some of whom had more than one test, with 9 finding that they were pregnant. Just 21 of these girls were advised about delaying sex; nearly half were tested for Chlamydia and 4 were referred to abortion providers.
Peter Hammond of Bristol City Council said: “The findings of this research show how important it is for young people to have access to advice and help with sexual health issues in a setting that is convenient to them.
“Parents should be reassured that the confidential service will always include advice that young people should talk to their parents about their situation.”
However, David Paton, professor of economics at Nottingham University’s Business School, said: “Pretty much all the research on school-based family planning clinics suggests they have little or no impact on teenage pregnancy rates.
“There is a possibility that such services change the behaviour of some young people and may increase risk-taking sexual behaviour.”