Community classes bid to cut teen pregnancies

HEALTH bosses should consider extending sex education classes to reach more young people, according to a Glasgow MSP.

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Using community youth workers to provide sex education to people who might slip through the net in schools has been suggested to further reduce rates of unplanned teenage pregnancies.

Bob Doris, Glasgow SNP MSP, raised the suggestion at the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport committee.

Mr Doris suggested the skills required for giving sex education and relationship advice to young people are different from those needed to deliver a physics or maths lesson.

He said: "What level of support is given to staff delivering relationship advice?

"Those most at risk from unplanned pregnancy are often those disengaged from school.

"But maybe engaging with good quality youth provision in communities is an option."

He asked Public Health Minister Michael Matheson if he was looking at this and if funding and advice could be provided for community groups."

Mr Matheson said: "That is where the level of data we collect is important.

"We need to get it down to a level where we can pinpoint an area and look at what is happening and then take action.

"Youth work could be part of the solution."

The committee heard how rates of pregnancies in under 16s in Scotland had fallen sharply between 2009 and 2010, from 616 to 492.

Committee convener, Duncan McNeil asked if the Government had carried out any research to see what had caused the drop.

Mr Matheson said there was no single reason, but said he was not aware of any research done for that period.

He said better education, contraception advice and support and advice within schools were among the range of contributing factors.

Smithycroft Young Mothers Unit in Glasgow was praised for supporting young mothers to continue in education and was offered as a model for the rest of the country.

Mr Doris asked if young mums could help inform the government's future strategy.

Mr Matheson agreed Smithycroft was a "very good model" for the approach of reducing unplanned teenage pregnancies as well as supporting those who do become parents.

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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