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Three girls are mums at 13

PUBLISHED: 11:54 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:31 11 August 2010

THERE WAS a massive shake up of teenage pregnancy services after shocking figures revealed three 13-year-old girls became mums last year. The number of under-18s having unsafe sex in this borough is alarmingly high with 70 youngsters conceiving babies in

THERE WAS a massive shake up of teenage pregnancy services after shocking figures revealed three 13-year-old girls became mums last year.

The number of under-18s having unsafe sex in this borough is alarmingly high with 70 youngsters conceiving babies in 2008.

This is way above the national and London averages.

Since 1998 the council is supposed to have reduced teenage pregnancies by 28.3 per cent, instead the numbers have skyrocketed by 9.2 per cent.

This worrying lack of progress has caused the council to completely rethink their strategy towards this growing problem.

A report by Children's Services and NHS Barking and Dagenham was presented to the Health Scrutiny Panel last Wednesday (February 11).

A lack of knowledge and information about sex among young people is the main reason cited for soaring pregnancy levels.

Only 36 per cent of youngsters asked were aware of the emergency contraception - The morning after pill.

And only five per cent had a high level of knowledge concerning sexual health services.

More sex education is favoured by the council but not by others, such as Reverend Steven Hanna at St Elisabeth's Church, Hewett Road.

He said: "Teaching kids about the mechanics of safe sex is not enough.

"I think the government has got it wrong on this particular issue, children need to learn about the responsibility and consequences that come with sex.

"Thirteen is very young to be having sex and much of the time it is down to peer pressure.

"But I would always praise their decision to keep the child, then let us start the job of supporting them in their choice."

One government proposed way of combating increasing teenage pregnancy is to distribute long acting contraception to control girls' fertility.

However NHS B&D say that is not planned in this borough.

A council spokesman said: "In collaboration with NHS Barking and Dagenham, the council is reorganising its strategy and approach.

"The number of teenage parents in LBBD has not been reducing so the council has decided to provide services through Health Centres, Children's Centres, Schools, and other community venues.

"This change means funding towards teenage pregnancy is now spent on more staff aiming to reduce the numbers of teenagers who become pregnant and supporting those that do."

An NHS B&D spokeswoman said: "We recognise the need to reduce teenage conceptions and acknowledge that an important element is raising awareness and providing information.

"We are working with the BAD Youth Forum to ensure our approach is informed by young people themselves.


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