Teenage pregnancies

You rightly highlight the need to raise the
profile of the teenage pregnancy strategy (“Too much too young”, 7
February) and the point about sex and healthy relationships
education must be the key.

The Teenage Pregnancy Plans and the Sure Start
delivery plans should inter-relate, as well as relate to the Health
Improvement Programme and include joint targets. Sure Start and
teenage pregnancy funding should be used together to support
preventive and awareness-raising measures, which are not given high
enough priority in the guidance.

In Westy Sure Start, we work with the teenage
pregnancy co-ordinator and the school health service. One related
project is a research exercise into how parents want sexual health
and healthy relationships education to be dealt with.

There are many single parents in Sure Start
areas and we must do what we can to help to remove any
embarrassment or unease relating to issues such as mothers and
their sons discussing such matters.

Richard Tipping
Programme manager
Westy Sure Start

Double standards

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown makes some valid points
about the reasons for the UK’s high number of teenage pregnancies,
but she is wrong on some points (Perspectives, 7 February).

She says that sex within marriage is the
expectation in Asian society, especially for women, and that women
would lose their honour if they succumbed to sexual desire before
marriage. But does she not think that such double standards are
discriminatory? Is she saying that the oppression of women is
justified if it reduces teenage pregnancies?

The claim that soap operas make teenage
motherhood seem “cool” also does not stand up. What about the
heartache over her baby that EastEnders‘ Sonia suffered
and the difficult life of Sarah Louise in Coronation

While it is partly true that we cannot tackle
casual teenage sex without also tackling drug and alcohol policies,
there are other essential ingredients in this equation, which
include teenagers’ low self-esteem and lack of aspirations.

Louise Nesbitt

Vetting supply teachers

We agree that the Amy Gehring case highlighted
the lack of adequate vetting of supply teaching staff (News
Analysis, 14 February). But surely it equally exposed the lack of
awareness of new legislation on abuse of trust.

Section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment)
Act 2000 would appear to have been designed for just such a case as
this, given Amy Gehring’s subsequent admission that she had sex
with a 16-year-old pupil during her previous supply teaching

The act aims to protect children and young
people in school, in local authority care or in custody who might
be vulnerable to sexual exploitation by adults who have a duty of
care. It came into force in January 2001, but as of this week the
Home Office had no recorded prosecutions under the new

We would urge the police and prosecuting
authorities to make use of this extra protection for vulnerable

Roger Singleton
Chief executive, Barnardo’s

What crisis?

The news that the government will not expect
the new National Care Standards Commission to rigorously enforce
the new regulations bodes ill for much-needed reform and investment
in older people’s services (News, page 10, 7 February).

The Social Policy Ageing and Information
Network has again highlighted the chronic underfunding of social
care (News, page 8, same issue).

In Wakefield, an adverse joint review report
is being used to justify extensive commissioning from the private
sector. The argument is that although our home care and residential
homes are of high quality they are judged too expensive compared to
a private sector unburdened by reasonable pay and conditions of
service for its workforce.

The watering down of the regulatory regime
will merely mask the lack of investment which remains the defining
issue in social care provision.

Donal Mullally
Wakefield Unison

Progress in Wales

Keith Fletcher’s article (Viewpoint, 31
January) lacked understanding of progress made in Wales.

For example, four regional social care
partnerships for employers and training providers have been
established. The initial response to job fairs has been very
positive. A template to gather information has been developed with
private, voluntary and statutory employers. Career information and
promotional materials are being developed. Employers are
considering future models for training social workers.

The Task and Finish group’s work constitutes a
new strategic basis for tackling the problem. There have been
debates in the Welsh assembly about social care workforce issues
and the adoption of the strategy. Only if social care in Wales is
seen as one sector with one workforce, will the real problems be

Tony Garthwaite
Spokesperson on workforce issues, Welsh Association of Directors
of Social Services.
Graham Illingworth
Director, NCH Cymru.
Mario Kreft,
Head of policy, Care Forum Wales


– The physical restraint technique, Price,
mentioned in Reflections (14 February), was developed in the
mid-1990s by Brian Nicholson, then at the Home Office, and other
professionals in the care field, and not as stated in the

– In our News Analysis article on justice for
people with learning difficulties (24 January) we stated that in
1998 there were only three appropriate adult schemes in the
country, in Portsmouth, Sheffield and Derby. In fact, Kent social
services have run an appropriate adult scheme since 1993.

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