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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 11:58 GMT
Minister backs contraceptive jabs
Margaret Hodge
Hodge believes young mothers should lecture their peers
Minister for Children Margaret Hodge has said contraceptive injections could help to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Mrs Hodge said many schoolgirls have children at an early age because they lack self-esteem.

She is urging young mothers to lecture their peers in schools in a bid to cut the number of unwanted pregancies.

"You do want children to put off having sex at such a young age," Mrs Hodge told the Independent newspaper.

She said: "You do want them to have appropriate contraceptives and you want responsibility from such girls and boys.

"What is really interesting is this contraceptive injection. If people are having sex, you don't want them to have babies at that age."

Stayed together

She branded single motherhood a "bad thing" and said it was best for children if their parents stayed together.

Mrs Hodge warned of the dangers of teenage pregancies and she urged young mothers to go into schools to make their peers more aware of the problem.

I want to get teen mums to go into the classroom and explain how hard it is, how poor you are, how you lose all your friends and how lonely it is
Margaret Hodge
"I want to get teen mums to go into the classroom and explain how hard it is, how poor you are, how you lose all your friends and how lonely it is," she added.

But anti-abortion group Life criticised Mrs Hodge's comments.

Life trustee, Nuala Scarisbrick, said: "The last 24 hours have seen an onslaught on our children urging them to have sex.

"First the Family Planning Association announces plans to issue a guidebook extolling the virtues of casual sex, pornography and contraception regardless of age, then Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children, declares that girls under the age of consent should be offered contraceptive injections.

"The age of consent is there for good reason, to protect children from the kind of exploitation and sexualisation being promoted by the FPA and the Government.

"We should do everything in our power to ensure that these immoral guides do not reach our children."

'Informed decisions'

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the Government does not promote any one form of contraception over another.

He added: "Young people that cannot be persuaded to abstain from sexual activity should have access to health professionals to help them make informed decisions about the method of contraception that is most appropriate for them.

"Such young people should also be encouraged to talk to their parents".

According to recent figures released by the charity Brook, one in 10 young people has already had sex by the age of 14.

As a result, the organisation recently launched a safe sex text messaging service in an attempt to cut pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

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