Teen pregnancies

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The news that teenage pregnancy rates have fallen to a new low, and are a third down on 2007 (your report, 8 July), is welcome indeed, though the figures showing the rates in areas of social deprivation are five times those of affluent areas are depressing, as are the regional variations.

The figures here in NHS Fife are the highest. Worst of all is the abortion figure of 2,345.

This comes at a time when teenagers have greater access to contraception and better sex education in schools than ever before.

Public health minister Maureen Watt is right to point out that reducing levels of teenage pregnancy will increase their choices, opportunities and well-being throughout their lives.

Being a parent is a demanding job. It requires emotional maturity, financial security and the support, surely, of partners, family and friends.

Single teenage mums are unlikely to have that. They are at the highest risk of social exclusion. Many leave high school too early, get a dead-end job, if any, and live in poverty.

Children born to teen mums tend to have poorer health, do not do well at school, and their daughters often end up teen mums themselves, so the cycle continues.

Many single mums end up isolated in unsuitable homes well away from their support network. Government services to help them are being cut back.

Against this backdrop of despair, one wonders if the age of consent has been reduced, but no. The Sexual Offences Act 2009 clearly states that the age remains 16.

Why, then, are more youngsters not appearing before a children’s panel? Does the Crown Office turn a blind eye if the sexual activity is consensual?

We do not have such an attitude to the teen who drinks under 18 or the teen caught driving under 17 and for very good reasons.

John V Lloyd

Keith Place

Inverkeithing, Fife