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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
School offers morning-after pill
Morning after pill
Parents do not have to be told about the pill
A school in south London is making the morning-after pill available to its pupils, even those under 16.

Chestnut Grove school in Balham is taking the action to try to tackle the problem of under-age pregnancies.

If the scheme is successful, the pill could be introduced to other secondary schools in Wandsworth, which has the fifth highest teenage pregnancy rate in the capital.

The school says it took the decision after a meeting of the governors and after consulting parents.


Any school that has a system whereby children can go off in secret and get morning-after pills is setting up a big green light to underage sex

Nuala Scarisbrook, Life
A statement from the school said: "Parents were consulted about the pilot scheme...very few concerns were raised."

Chestnut Grove school's nurse, Sheila Crouch, was given the go-ahead by governors and the Wandsworth Primary Care Trust to dispense the pill as part of her weekly drop-in sessions for pupils.

She told BBC London: "If they come to me then I can give them more of my time, I can talk to them about issues surrounding their sexual health."

The school says emergency contraception is already available in chemists and walk-in centres.

Child protection

The school nurse would be able to offer counselling at the same time and monitor use of the pill.

But Nuala Scarisbrook from the anti-abortion charity Life told BBC London the scheme could encourage a bigger problem.

"Any school that has a system whereby children can go off in secret and get morning-after pills, which anyway cause an abortion, or any other kind of drug or device without their parents knowledge or without their teachers knowing, is setting up a big green light to underage sex," she said.

By law, parents do not have to be told if their children are given contraception - even if the child is as young as 11.

But Wandsworth Council says if a child of 11 or 12 got pregnant it would be treated as a child protection issue and social services and parents would be involved.

The government is aiming to reduce teenage pregnancies in under 18s in England by 15% by 2004.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Mike Ramsden
"If the idea is judged a success then it could be rolled out into other schools in Wandsworth"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

17 Jul 02 | Health
11 Dec 00 | Health
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