Girls as young as 10 seeking contraception

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Controversy over emergency contraception. Picture by Alice Kershaw © JMU Journalism

Controversy over emergency contraception. Picture by Alice Kershaw © JMU Journalism

New figures reveal that nearly 200 local girls aged 10-15 have sought the morning-after pill in the past year, making Merseyside one of the worst areas in the country.

Released by The Health and Social Care Information Centre, the figures show St Helens is nine times worse than the national average and has the highest statistics of underage girls seeking emergency contraception, with the equivalent of one in every 20 girls aged 10-15 receiving prescriptions.

St Helens was also in the top five local authorities with the highest number of girls under the age of consent who visited a sexual health service.

Warrington is the third worst in the country, while Liverpool is ranked fifth. Knowsley is also in the top 10 worst places. Wirral just missed being included in the worst 10, being ranked in eleventh place.

The statistics also show that for every 1,000 underage girls in Liverpool, almost 30 prescriptions were sought, while in Warrington, underage girls attended contraceptive clinics 86 times in a year.

MPs are now calling for schools to provide younger girls and boys with sex education.

St Helens North MP Dave Watts told the Echo: “We need to show young people how to avoid getting into the situation where they need emergency contraception in the first place, especially as emergency contraception doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections.

“There are religious and cultural reasons that we have this problem in St Helens and we need to make sure that our young people are protected.”

A spokesperson for young people’s sexual health charity Brook, said: “Young people have the right to accurate information, education, and services so they can make informed choices about contraception.

“Based on 50 years’ experience of working with young people, Brook believes that the best way to protect young people from harm is to reaffirm their right to access confidential services, whether they are under or over 16, whilst empowering and supporting professionals to make an effective assessment as to whether they are at risk of harm or exploitation.”

About Alice Kershaw, JMU Journalism