As the debate over sex education in the classroom rages across the globe, at least one British school has a whole new issue to contend with: birth control. Parents are furious after discovering NHS managers have been giving their daughters – some as young as 13 – contraceptive implants at school without informing them.
The initiative, launched in Southampton to combat the high rate of teen pregnancies, is causing outrage among countless parents who say it’s morally wrong and just plain irresponsible. Their issue isn’t so much the actual implants – called Nexplanon and inserted under the skin – as much as the lack of parental consent.
One mother, who does not want her name used, told the Daily Echo the contraceptive implants caused serious mood swings, depression and weight gain in her 13-year-old daughter. She’s upset that she wasn’t informed but even more so that her child’s doctor wasn’t informed. As well, there are no follow-up appointments, and many people are questioning why not.
According to the piece, nine Southampton schools are involved in the government initiative (three remaining schools opted out). Students simply need to fill out a questionnaire about their medical history – though how many 13-year-olds know their full medical history? – and undergo a consultation with health experts before receiving the contraceptive.
“I feel really angry about this. I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far,” the unnamed mother told the Daily Echo. “To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing, is morally wrong and I think more parents should be aware that their children could be having this procedure.”
She goes on to explain that if her daughter has a headache, the school will call to see if they can give her a Tylenol. Likewise, a dentist will have her sign a consent form before extracting a tooth. “Yet my daughter can go to school and have this implanted into her arm, without consulting her GP or parents,” she said.
I don’t blame this mother for being angry. Do I think that teenagers have the right to contraceptives? Absolutely. And I think that having it available at school is a step in the right direction. But I also think it’s neglectful not inform these students’ doctors, at the very least.
Truth is, most teens are not comfortable discussing sex with their parents, and some are even too embarrassed to broach the subject with their doctors (that was actually the case with Jamie Lynn Spears). So it’s nice to know they have somewhere else to turn. But it’s vital for these health workers to have a patient’s full medical history, which for better or for worse means getting these young girls’ doctors involved. I also think they have an obligation to follow-up post-procedure, something that is clearly not being done.
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