Teenage conceptions have halved in Suffolk since mid-2000s, as Ipswich 4YP boss praises sex education
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 May 2017
Better sex education at school is a key reason why teenage conception rates in Suffolk have halved in the last decade, it has been claimed.
Official figures showed the number of conceptions – registered births and legal abortions – to women aged under 18 in the county fell from a mid-2000s high of 435 in 2004 to 196 in 2015.
This represents a fall of 55% in the space of 11 years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed.
Tibbs Pinter, chief executive of Suffolk Young People’s Health Project, a charity also known as Ipswich 4YP which helps young people aged 12 to 25, said he was “surprised” at the conception rate fall, but praised the work of schools, charities and youngsters for tackling the issue.
He said: “Schools are being very proactive and provide a really good, clear and healthy message for all young people about prevention and taking precautions, and also about seeking help and empowering young people to be able to do that.
“Parents and aunts also help, and a community spirit has definitely developed.”
In March, the government announced sex and relationships education is to be made compulsory in all schools in England. Currently, sex education is compulsory only in council-run schools.
Mr Pinter said some youngsters who seek their help, who may have an unwanted pregnancy, are initially confused about their situation before anger sets in.
He said: “There is a sense of worry. They are not quite sure what to do, but are prepared to do something about it. It is usually their friend who brings them along. They are past the point of disbelief and have realised they need to check this out.”
He also warned against the dangers of complacency. The ONS data began in 1998, when the figure was 439. It fell to 351 in 2001 but jumped up to 435 in 2004.
He said: “We can’t take our eye off the ball. We can’t go off and do something else. We have done a good job and need to maintain it.”
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We are pleased the overall teenage conception rates for Suffolk have decreased.
“However, we will continue to work with young people, and our partners, to provide the best quality sex education and services and will continue to address areas with higher rates in Suffolk.”