1 in 20 underage girls on the pill, new study reveals

The number of underage girls being prescribed the contraceptive pill has risen by 50 per cent over a period of ten years, a study has shown.

Research carried out by a team at King’s College London, using official GP data, reveals that one in 20 girls under the age of consent are being given the pill.

The study was first reported on by the Mail On Sunday and an editorial warned that the “long-term consequences” of the findings “cannot really be known”.

Deeply shocking

The figures show that the proportion of girls aged 12 to 15 being prescribed the pill in 2011 was 5.2 per cent, a large increase from the 3.3 per cent in 2002.

This represents a rise from 50,000 girls to 75,000 girls, according to the Mail On Sunday.

Following the report, Conservative MP Bob Neill said the findings are “deeply shocking”.

Destroying childhoods

He said it is “worrying if giving the Pill to girls as young as 12 is becoming routine.

“If this is so widespread, and these figures suggest it is, we’re destroying young girls’ childhoods and undermining responsible parents who should know if their child is being put on the Pill.

“And if a girl as young as 12 is sexually active, surely someone is breaking the law?”

Stephen Tomlin, a consultant pharmacist who contributed to the study, said that there are “questions to be asked” about the safety of teenage girls.

Exposed to risk

Last month, Government figures revealed that 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.

The figures showed the extent to which NHS sexual health clinics are giving the devices to girls aged 15 and below, without parental consent.

Responding to the news, Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust 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.”

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”.