SCHOOLS should be promoting sexual abstinence among teenagers instead of harm reduction and contraception according to a Christian charity group.

The Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee heard from charities and family planning organisations about teenage pregnancy and how to reduce rates across Scotland.

Dr Alistair Noble, of Christian Action Research and Education, (Care) Scotland called for a shift in emphasis, saying the current focus: "Assumes teenagers will be involved in sex. It has the effect of encouraging the thing you are trying to prevent.

"I am not talking about celibacy. I am talking about delaying until you are in a stable relationship, preferably marriage.

"The balance too often tips towards harm reduction and contraception."

However the view that teenage pregnancy was always a problem was challenged by another charity, which campaigns against child abuse.

Dr Jonathan Sher director of the Worldwide Alternatives to Violence Trust (Wave), said: "There is an exaggeration about the amount of sexual behaviour, not all teenagers are having sex.

"There is an assumption that teenage pregnancy is inherently wrong.

"There is no evidence to encourage the belief it is always a bad thing.

"There are times when it is obviously disadvantageous to the mother and the father.

"There is no evidence throughout history that you can stop teenagers having sexual relationships."