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Should teen tell mum she's taking the Pill?

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

Should a girl speak to her parents before using contraception?

On reading about the 13-year-old girl who'd taken it upon herself to have a long-acting contraceptive implant fitted without recourse to her parents, I had two main reactions.

First, thank heavens she was responsible enough to protect herself from a pregnancy if she and her boyfriend decided to have sex.

Second, thank heavens she was prepared to take responsibility for her contraception despite feeling she couldn't discuss it with her mother.

I have only admiration for her, she's a sign of the times.

And I have only sorrow for her mother that her daughter overlooked her when deciding to seek protection from pregnancy.

For a teenager, especially one as young as 13, that's a momentous decision, but one made easier by the counsel of family doctors and family planning clinics.

I'm astonished at the maturity of this girl because she was taking precautions and wanted to be fully armed should an opportunity present itself to her and her boyfriend. But there is plenty of research showing teenagers are well-informed about contraception and act responsibly and seek it out whether or not they have asked their parents' permission.

Most parents who are bypassed by a teen contemplating sex and are not consulted about contraception are, as in this case, up in arms. They claim they have the right to be consulted prior to a prescription being written or the girl having an implant introduced.

I'm afraid they don't enjoy this right and I fully support teens who opt for going it alone.

If, by the age a girl is thinking of becoming sexually active, she doesn't feel she can approach her parents on such a touchy subject, those parents have sacrificed their rights.

It's up to parents, not the teenagers, to keep the channels of communication open.

If you haven't taken a real interest in your kids, encouraged supportive and frank conversations, you can't expect them at 13 or 14 years old to suddenly start opening their hearts to you.

That kind of trust has to be built up from toddlerhood.

For reasons of family dynamics, where a teenager knows trying to have a chat about sex and contraception will only result in being grounded or, worse, thrown out, doctors are legally bound to honour their patients' confidentiality, underage or not.

No one can stop a teen from having sex, albeit irresponsibly, but we can stop unwanted pregnancies and we must.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 6, 2012
Previous Article:Dear Dr Miriam.

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