Minister rolls out latest phase of strategy to cut teenage pregnancies

The government has pledged to renew its efforts to cut the
teenage pregnancy rate and double the number of young mothers in
education and work.

Launching the initiative, health minister Hazel Blears said
children born to teenage mothers were at high risk of growing up in
poverty and poor health.

“As well as maintaining the downward trend in teenage
conceptions, we are committed to preventing teenage pregnancy
closing off opportunities and passing down health and social
disadvantages from one generation to the next,” she added.

The new phase of the strategy on teenage pregnancy sets out
ambitious targets to halve the rate of conceptions in under-18s by
2010, with an interim reduction of 15 per cent by 2004, and
establish a “downward trend” in under-16s by 2010. Recent figures
show conception rates for under-18s dropping by 4 per cent between
2000 and 2001.

The government has also committed itself over the next eight
years to increase to 60 per cent the proportion of mothers aged
16-19 in education, training or work, from the current 29 per

The action plan has been launched in response to recommendations
made in last December’s report from the Independent Advisory Group
on Teenage Pregnancy.

Gail Teasdale, teenage pregnancy and Sure Start Plus
co-ordinator at Kingston-Upon-Hull Council’s social inclusion unit,
said the government action plan was ambitious but could be
achieved. Hull has the fourth highest rate of teenage pregnancy in
western Europe with 73 conceptions per 1,000 of children under 18
according to latest figures.

Teasdale particularly welcomed the initiative to address
employment and education issues for teenage mothers. In Hull,
teenage mothers are allocated a dedicated adviser who handles
housing, benefits, health care needs and training and work

“It’s about raising their quality of life and reducing the
numbers stuck on benefits and getting them out of that poverty
trap,”she explained.

The action plan also includes measures to improve sex and
relationship education, availability of sexual advice services,
child care options and ensure supported housing is available for
all lone parents under 18 by the end of 2003.

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