We still have far to go to cut teen pregnancy rate
Thursday 26 February 2009
Paul Ennals, chief executive, NCB
This week we are expecting the latest figures
on teenage pregnancy, which is normally a good time to avoid
reading the tabloids. NCB has supported the Teenage Pregnancy
Strategy from the very beginning.
We helped the government analyse why teenage pregnancy rates are
higher in Britain than most of Europe, and why it is important to
reduce these figures. But we always believed that the ambitious
government targets to halve the rate were unachievable in the
The rate is coming down, but there is still so far to go. Why are
we not on target? Because some of the really big changes are only
just starting to take effect. And the government remains too wary
of reactions from the anti-youth establishment to demand commitment
from local services.
For example, we know we need sex and relationship education
embedded within a statutory personal, social and health education
(PSHE) curriculum, with better training and support to teachers.
But although the government has now promised to do so, PSHE is not
Research has shown that the biggest single factor in reducing
teenage pregnancy rates is improving contraceptive advice and
services. Money has now been allocated, and the child health
strategy has promised more advice on setting up services in
schools, but we are only just starting.
Reducing teenage pregnancy may be a high government priority, but
we know that many primary care trusts and local authorities are not
prioritising this area. So there are three things we can do to
speed things up. Prepare now for statutory PSHE, through investing
in the training of teachers. Accelerate the provision of
contraceptive advice in schools and colleges. And develop support
for local leaders, to help them drive forward change. The Teenage
Pregnancy Strategy is important, and it is right. We can deliver