- RATES DOWN
- FOR THIRD
- YEAR RUNNING
By Dominic Bonner
THE announcement by the Department of Health this week of the increase in funding for sustained action on Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has also shown a decrease in the annual statistical report on the number of teenage mothers.
Figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that teenage conception rates fell for the third year in a row. In 2001, conception rates in under 18s were 3% lower than in 2000. The overall reduction since 1998 to present day is 10% nationally meaning that around 8000 pregnancies in girls under 18 have been prevented. Conception rates in under 16s in 2001 have been reported as 4.5% lower.
The department has welcomed the current report and bolstered the scheme by announcing a further 40 million pounds to support the implementation of the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy for the next three years. Public Health minister Hazel Blears responded to the news by saying, "These figures show very encouraging progress towards our goal of halving the under 18 conception rate by 2010. Our Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, the first of its kind, is based on the best available research evidence, which shows that the key to success is an approach that involves education, health, social services, the media, parents and young people themselves.
"The 9% reduction over 3 years reflects an enormous amount of work and commitment at a local level towards helping young people make safe, informed choices and supporting teenage parents to improve the quality of life for them and their children. The increase in funding will enable local areas to build on the progress made so far. Tackling Britain's unacceptably high rates of teenage pregnancy remain a key priority in current department policy."
The objectives of the TPS are to halve the rate of conceptions in under 18s by 2010. With an interim reduction of 15% by 2004, setting a firmly established downward trend that will enable teenage parents to regain the places in the education system. Thus increasing employability and reducing long-term social exclusion.