Horror as young girls use contraception without permission from parents: why not try asking them about it?

Whether teenage girls should be offered contraception is not a new debate. Neither is the disgust shown by opposers to young girls having bodily autonomy.

Share
Related Topics

This week the usual suspects have been doing their familiar red alert routine over teen access to contraception, and, more specifically, the right to access it without parental consent.

This isn’t a new story; it keeps cropping up, like garden weeds, or an ulcer. Here’s the latest version of it: using Freedom of Information laws, a survey by the Daily Telegraph has found that school nurses have given “implants or jabs” to girls aged 13-16 “more than 900 times in the past two years.” That’s it.

Now, there are many, like Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, who believes giving out the pill “behind parents’ backs” is “unprofessional, irresponsible and morally wrong”.

Or Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, who believes it “devalues sex” and “makes it like an ordinary, everyday thing like going to have a McDonald’s.” (I suspect that eating McDonalds every single day would actually be worse for you than having safe, consensual, legal sex every day, but let’s leave that to one side.)

And then there’s the Christian Institute, who report how Ann Allen, from the Family Education Trust, complains “parents have to pick up the pieces from this kind of behaviour” (behaviour? Stomach cramps?), how the Scottish Tory health spokesman worries about “breeding complacency” over safe sex (it doesn’t say exactly how access to information and health care will do this), and how the Roman Catholic Church worries about giving “a green light to promiscuity”.

I must admit, the likes of the Christian Institute in particular do make me chuckle a bit. One minute they are defending B&B owners Mr and Mrs Wilkinson’s right to discriminate against gay people in the furious battle for personal freedom against the state. The next minute they are concerned that the state isn’t handing your medical records out to others without your consent.

Because like it or not, that is what we’re talking about here. Young people – yes, even female ones - have the right to bodily autonomy. And they have a right to confidential medical services, too.

Sadly, not every young person wanting or needing sexual health care has a family with whom they can discuss it. Perhaps their parents are strongly religious, even oppressive. Perhaps they have been a victim of abuse or rape; perhaps from a family member. Perhaps they are at risk of honour violence.

And perhaps – as is common – they want to use the pill for irregular or agonising periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or even severe acne.

In fact, if you account for the fairly reasonable assumption that a sizeable chunk of those girls are accessing pills and jabs for health reasons, as opposed to wanting to leap on the milkman when he comes round for some wild, consequence free sex – the worst kind women can be having, if you’re a social conservative, it seems – then “900 times in the past two years” doesn’t even sound that many.

And note the rather specific, cautious wording: it doesn’t say 900 different girls have accessed the pill. Given that the article doesn’t exactly seem to be, shall we say, overly worried about minimising parental alarm, if the survey found 900 different girls had all been given implants or jabs, surely we would hear about it?

What would I say to a parent worried by this story? Worried that their teenager might be having sex or using contraceptives “behind their back”? I say, quite simply, talk to your bloody kid! Why don’t you trust your daughter to talk to you? What kind of relationship do you have, exactly?

Children are not things; you do not own them. You don’t have automatic rights to access information about their life and control what they do with their bodies. Involve yourself in your child’s life. Facilitate a dialogue. If they trust you, they will talk to you honestly and answer your questions. They will ask your opinion. They will value it. And if you treat sex like a shameful thing; treat their body and its habits as something dirty? Well, then they will probably lie to you.

If you have a healthy, positive relationship with your children, then the promise of confidentiality, given by qualified nursing professionals, is not about you, and will probably not affect you. It is about the parent who kicks their daughter out for having an abortion, or kills her and dumps her in a suitcase for kissing a boy. And if you do have the kind of relationship with your kids where they can’t discuss their own body and health with you, then maybe you shouldn’t be blaming the school nurse or the nanny state for it. Maybe you should take some – what do the social conservatives keep calling it? Ah yes – personal responsibility.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee