A community worker in Croydon is calling for the council to tackle teenage pregnancy in the borough through the promotion of celibacy.
Emma Bridges, who runs Wise Up, a drop in centre for young girls on a Monday evening, believes that the Council should start preaching ‘save sex’ rather than ‘safe sex’.
She said: “We need to teach these girls self worth and self respect. We need to look at why the pregnancy rate is so high when there are all these schemes in place.
“These girls feel lost, they want something to love which will return their love.”
This comes after a report last week showing that NHS Croydon has failed to reduce its teenage pregnancy rates in the last two years, despite a concerted effort from new initiatives.
The government target is to halve the number of young mums by 2010. But in Croydon, the number of teenage conceptions is set to rise.
Croydon has on average 55 girls in every 1,000 conceiving which is well above the national average of 40. Statistics suggest the rate is so high it would be impossible for them to meet the government target by next year.
But councilor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, said Croydon should ignore statistics and focus on taking care of the teenagers and their babies.
“Young people have children because of a variety of different circumstances and there is no simple reason to explain it. It is a mixture of educational attainment, self worth and parental support.
“It is not simply about statistics. We need to focus on doing the best job we can to take care of these women and their babies. Targets are targets but we are talking about people’s lives.”
Clare Naylor, 20, from Thornton Heath, who has a two-year-old son, explained that she became pregnant at 17: “I was using contraception, but I got pregnant anyway. It’s hard being a young mum.
“I don’t wish I hadn’t had him, but it’s not easy. Girls don’t know what they’re letting themselves in for when they choose to have a child. It changes your life.”
Wise Up is aimed at girls from years five and six in the hope that younger girls will be more informed about their choices about sex in the future.
The 2010 review is expected to show Croydon as one of the worst areas in the country for teenage conceptions.