Twelve-year-old boys in Switzerland will soon be able to buy packets of extra small condoms, and the controversial contraceptives may soon be on their way to the UK.
The Hotshot condoms, manufactured by Lamprecht AG, have been produced after research by the Swiss Government revealed that an increasing number of twelve to 14-year-olds are having sex.
Nancy Bodmer, who headed the research, said: “The result that shocked us concerned young boys who display apparently risky behaviour. They have more of a tendency not to protect themselves.
“They do not have a very developed sexual knowledge. They do not understand the consequences of what they are doing and leave the young girls to take care of the consequences.”
And a spokeswoman for Lamprecht AG has indicated that the UK’s high rate of teen pregnancies makes the UK market a prime target for expansion.
Nysse Norballe said: “At the moment we are only producing the Hotshot in Switzerland. But the UK is certainly a very attractive market since there is a very high rate of underage conception.
“The UK would definitely be top priority if we marketed abroad.”
The announcement is likely to further disturb family values campaigners in the UK, who have warned that dishing out condoms will not cut the nation’s dire teenage pregnancy rate.
The research, carried out for the Federal Commission for Children and Youth, interviewed 1,480 people in Switzerland aged 10 to 20.
The current age of consent in Switzerland is 16, but if there is no more than three years’ age difference between the partners then no punishment is given.
Earlier this week press reports revealed that condom adverts are set to be aired on UK television before the 9pm watershed.
The adverts are an attempt to reduce the nation’s teen pregnancy rate, but critics have warned that the scheme will not work.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “Advertising condoms on prime-time television would do nothing to reduce teenage conceptions or sexually transmitted infections.
“Research does not support the common claim that teenage pregnancy rates in the UK are high because young people lack reliable information about contraception and are unable to access it with sufficient ease.”
And last week it was revealed that a £280 million Government plan to slash the number of teenage pregnancies is falling woefully behind schedule.
The Government had aimed to halve the rate of teen pregnancies by 2010, but the latest figures available from 2008 reveal only a 13.3 per cent drop.