NEWS FEATURE: Tough battle to keep teen pregnancy down in Hunts
AT the beginning of March, Cambridgeshire County Council released figures showing the number of girls aged 15 to 17 becoming pregnant in the county was at its lowest level in 10 years. MAX EVANS takes a look behind the statistics. TEENAGE pregnancies in
AT the beginning of March, Cambridgeshire County Council released figures showing the number of girls aged 15 to 17 becoming pregnant in the county was at its lowest level in 10 years. MAX EVANS takes a look behind the statistics.
TEENAGE pregnancies in Cambridgeshire are at a 10-year low, but the fight to keep them that way will be a struggle, according to a Huntingdonshire help group.
The Cornerstone Pregnancy Crisis Centre believes children are simply bombarded with sexual images - on television, the internet and in print - leading to a greater emphasis on sex.
While the number of girls aged 15 to 17 becoming pregnant in Cambridgeshire fell to its lowest level in 10 years, the group says more teenagers than ever are having sex.
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The latest stats were based on 2008 when there were roughly 25 pregnancies per 1,000 Cambridgeshire girls. In English, this is about xxxx pregnancies.
It compares favourably to the 2008 national figure - 40.4 per 1,000 - and the 1998 Cambridgeshire teenage pregnancy rate of 31.4 per 1,000.
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However, Sue Ruckman, schools co-ordinator for the Crisis Centre, said her experiences do vary with some of the findings.
"It's difficult to judge but Huntingdon is still a hot spot for teenage pregnancy," she told The Hunts Post. "Cambridgeshire overall has come down, but I would say Huntingdon does seem to have particularly high rate.
"I would also say more teenagers are having underage sex than in the past. That's an objective opinion as I don't have any statistics to back it up.
"However, I would say the message about sexually transmitted infections is a lot stronger now, because children are a lot more likely to get one. Something like one in 10 young people have chlamydia."
The Cornerstone Pregnancy Crisis Centre, which runs sexual relationship classes in Huntingdonshire schools including St Peters, St Ivo and Sawtry Community College, meets with 15 to 16-year-olds.
"Sex seems to be all the young people think they can offer to someone in a relationship. We try to show them how you love some one without having sex," said Mrs Ruckman.
"The idea of being a virgin now is weird. We want young people to try to get over that idea and for them to realise it's not weird."
The classes include references to the books (and now films) called Twilight, in which a vampire develops a relationship with a girl while resisting the temptation to bite her.
"We talk about the idea that having sex doesn't make you an adult and that actually resisting temptation can be a sign of strength," Mrs Ruckman said.
The classes also involve an exercise where pupils write down what they think the opposite sex would like from a relationship, which can produce some surprising results.
"Actually the boys are looking for things like companionship and honesty -the same things the girls want," she said.
Cornerstone also offers pregnancy and abortion support, counselling and advice.
The centre is hoping to visit more schools in the area, with a long term goal of teaching children at a younger age to prevent issues arising in the teenage years.
INFORMATION: Cornerstone Pregnancy Crisis Centre is based at Saxongate Community Learning Centre, Huntingdon. For more information call 01480 457711 or visit www.careconfidential.com/Huntingdon