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Government policies have encouraged irresponsible sexual behaviour among children

Giving girls as young as 13 the contraceptive Pill without their parents’ knowledge is yet another hugely misguided policy. Time for a change of approach?

By on Wednesday, 9 May 2012

An NHS trust has suggested that pharmacists should be able to give the contraceptive pill to teenagers without their parents' consent (PA photo)

An NHS trust has suggested that pharmacists should be able to give the contraceptive pill to teenagers without their parents' consent (PA photo)

Should girls as young as 13 be given the Pill by pharmacies without their parents’ knowledge? This recent item in the news has been given a reasoned and sensible answer by Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, in the Times. Reading the points he argues makes one stand back and look at the way society now treats our young people – and to be appalled by it.

As Wells points out, in the past there were many restraints on underage sexual activity for a good reason: sex, as society once realised, was linked to bonding, babies, the raising of children, providing for them and establishing a family. Cut free from such links unrestricted sexual behaviour would mean social mayhem – the situation we are now in. Wells cites all the ways that society has systematically turned against the wisdom and caution of previous generations:

• Explicit sex education at ever-younger ages in schools which has undermined the natural caution of young children
• Turning a blind eye to “the age of consent”
• The ready availability of contraception and the “morning-after” pill
• Confidentiality policies that mean young girls need not worry about their parents’ response – a brake on behaviour for earlier generations

As Norman Wells points out, to make the Pill available to girls under the age of 16 at chemists’ outlets would save them the embarrassment of having to see a doctor; in other words, sexual licence at an even younger stage of emotional immaturity would be encouraged.

I know the Government states that these hugely misguided policies will lower the statistics of teenage pregnancies but I do wonder if ministers really believe this. All the evidence is against them and always has been. As Wells indicates in his article, research published in the Journal of Health Economics in 2011 concluded that schemes to provide emergency birth control to under-16s at pharmacies did not cut teenage pregnancy rates and “led to increases in diagnoses of STIs”. So not only are we encouraging teenagers to engage in irresponsible sexual activity but we are also making it more likely that they will have long-term problems of infertility at a later stage when they want to settle down and start a family.

Is this what the Government really wants for young people? To engage in sexual relations when they feel like it, as long as they are “protected”, without any regard for the possibility of damage to health, physical and mental? Wells concludes his article: “If health authorities are interested in reducing underage teenage conception, abortion and STI rates, they should look for ways to discourage young people from engaging in sexual activity. The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of a sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt.”

I am intrigued by his use of the phrase “basic moral principles”. What are these and who, outside older people or those who have a religious framework to their lives, understands them anymore? It suggests we all agree on certain broad moral assumptions – such as that sexual activity should be discouraged in schoolchildren because they are too volatile, impulsive and immature to understand its repercussions. But we don’t.

People shake their heads when this subject comes under discussion and say “It’s too late. You can’t turn the clock back”. You can’t reproduce the conditions of society 50 years ago; that’s true. But you can still learn from enduring lessons of the past. If you are the Government, with the power to enact laws for the protection and good of the citizenry, you could at least be honest enough to acknowledge that the sexually permissive policies of recent decades have completely failed our teenagers and that it might be time to explore alternative policies.

Peter Maurin, the friend and idiosyncratic mentor of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper in the States, used to say that laws are in place to encourage people to avoid the bad. Our society positively encourages our youth to do the opposite.

  • ms Catholic state

    Of course, our government and authorities are promoting promiscuity among the young and leaving them at risk of abuse (as we have seen in some horrific cases recently), including childbearing out of wedlock.  Unbelievably our secular establishment facilitates all this, no matter how they deny it.  However neither is the Church raising her voice and promoting Christ’s call to chastity.  Not even to Catholic youngsters.  It’s assumed that Catholic youngsters know about chastity already and ignore it.  But they don’t know it, and they are not even reminded of it in our parishes and schools.  Is it any wonder they choose to follow the louder voices of the secular world.
     
    The Church should boldly present an alternative way of life to every child in the country instead of remaining silent or trying to resist these other voices.  These people are not interested in the Godly way of life and never will be.  Let the Church by-pass those who corrupt the youth, and instead proclaim loudly Christ’s loving way and that as they say, ‘purity is power’.

  • MarkB

    It’s a sad state of affairs but the truth
    is that the majority of politicians in the UK
    are as wedded to the notion that everyone has the right to be as promiscuous as
    they like, as are Europe’s politicians to the
    notion that the Euro is a good idea and has some kind of future outside of
    fiscal consolidation. Both groups are blinded by pride and ideology. It would
    take significant humility for either of them to admit the truth, though perhaps
    more so for our politicians because our whole society (and not just our
    economy) is ordered around sexual liberalism, and to admit that they were wrong
    would be to admit that the Christians are right. Nevertheless, we should
    continue to pray for all of our politicians and rulers.

  • Daniel_Borsell

    Everyone does have a right to be as promiscuous as they like – who would want it any other way? The point is how do we deter people from this behaviour in a secular society?

  • JByrne24

    Ms Catholic State writes about: “…childbearing out of wedlock…”.

    In the late 1970s in the UK only 10% of babies were being born to unmarried couples.
    The 50/50 mark was reached in December 2007 – i.e. at that time, over 4 years ago, HALF of all babies in the UK were being born to unmarried couples and HALF to married couples. MOST babies in the UK are now being born to unmarried couples .

    Of course when here mentioning “married” couples (national statistics), the term “married” applies to those, such as eg. divorced people who are re-marrying, whom the Catholic Church would not consider truly married.

    Taking the Catholic Church’s view of marriage into account, the great majority of babies are now being born to unmarried couples in the UK, and many other places in the world.

  • JByrne24

    Yes, we do have this right (“to be as promiscuous as we like” – please see Daniel_Borsell’s comment), within very broad limits – although I myself do not like to be, and have always been faithful to my wife (but then I’m over 70).

    And it’s also true that the modern view of sex is not the old view of sex. Sex is now a well-established, common, recreational activity and one that is (still) associated with friendship and with bonding. It is, however, no longer necessarily associated with procreation.

    It is necessary to recognise the truth of the above observations, whether you approve or disapprove of the actions they describe.

    The NHS pilot schemes in question are only in place to see if an obvious evil consequence (motherhood at age down to 13) can be further mitigated.

    I would have thought that Christian people, and even fundamentalist Catholics, would have welcomed this. 
    On second thoughts I’m sure that many Christians do welcome it. The fundamentalist Catholics will follow along, eventually – as usual.

  • ms Catholic state

    We don’t have any right to any sin.  And we will pay for our sins in this world or the next!  Also promsicuous societies produce more problems than they solve as we can see.

    The only antidote to our extraordinarily upside-down society where sin is regarded as a good by our pagan authorities….is Christ’s message and His Catholic Church.  It is time the Church rose to the challenge.  All part of the New Evangelisation I guess.

  • Daniel_Borsell

     What do you consider ‘rising to the challenge’ entails?

  • JByrne24

    Your comment about sin begs the question as to what is, and is not, sin. 

    “more problems” etc.:
    A common view about the problems of our society (and of the wider world) would be that they are quite divorced from promiscuity and rather rooted in: greed; fundamentalisms of various kinds; poverty; ignorance…etc.

    It is certainly time that voices in the Church spoke to the real world, once more. The language of the “official” Church no longer speaks to other than a few. This is not because this language is the genuine real truth, which, of course, doesn’t change (for it is NOT this), but rather that it is simply the language which expresses a world view of a former age, now known to be flawed.
    I do not envy the Church when it begins (again) the monumental task of facing the real challenges – but the bullet will eventually need to be bitten.

  • MarkB

    Fair point Daniel, perhaps it should have read.. “are as wedded to the notion that there are no costs to everyone being as promiscuous as they like…”. Your question is surely at the heart of the New Evangelisation… how to reach people and win them over to Christ in such a secular society? It’s no small challenge.

  • ms Catholic state

    By the real world, I presume you mean our post-Christian society.  I agree…it is time the Church spoke to it and told it some unpleasant truths which the pagan authorities will never tell for a multitude of self-serving venal reasons.

    Also the Church might tell our society where it is headed if it doesn’t return to its Christian roots ie Islamic takeover and/or demographic death!  Our secular establishement certainly won’t mention these for some reason or other.

  • Jess

    The pagan authorities? Who are they?

  • ms Catholic state

    Every single secular authority in the land…in Europe and the UN.

  • ms Catholic state

    I think the Church should be more involved in day to day affairs….commenting on the state of the nation and constructively critising secularism while offering a better (and the best) alternative ie the Catholic Faith.  Not just seeking a safe space for the Church to operate in….but reaching out and actively engaging and evangelising secular society.. 

    The Holy Spirit will lead the way I’m sure.

  • JByrne24

    No, I don’t mean “our post-Christian society”. I mean the people in the present world as it actually is. Some (as in past times) are Christian and some not. 
    I would guess your “unpleasant truths” (that some fundamentalist Catholics seem to relish) belong to the language and world-view which no longer has purchase.

  • JByrne24

    You obviously want a (Catholic) theocracy. 
    Other fundamentalist believers might want a different theocracy.

    What a nightmare.
     

  • JByrne24

    You obviously want a Catholic theocracy.
    Other believers might want a different theocracy.
    How would you choose the Grand Mufti?

    What a nightmare.

  • Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

    “It’s a sad state of affairs but the truth
    is that the majority of politicians in the UK
    are as wedded to the notion that everyone has the right to be as promiscuous as
    they like, ………”

    “THIEVES, MURDERS AND RAPISTS” SO OR SIMILAR WAS ONE KEJARIWAL’S DESCRIPTION OF POLITICIANS IN MY COUNTRY. AND YET ONE MORE PERSON, ONE HINDU SWAMY CAME VERY CLOSE TO THIS DESCRIPTION OF THE SAME CATEGORY OF PEOPLE.
     

    YES IF SCIENTIFICALLY ANALYSED AND COMPILED THE DATA COULD SUPPLY PROOF OF POLITICIANS EVERYWHERE BEING SUCH PERHAPS WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS. AFTER ALL ARE NOT  MANY OF THEM SELF SEEKERS, LIVING MOSTLY FOR THIS WORLD AND WHAT IT CAN GIVE THEM!

  • JByrne24

    A pan-European (or rather a world-wide) theocracy.

    Can you be serious? 

  • Jess

    Im not sure you understand what the word pagan means

  • JabbaPapa

    Right, so on the one hand let’s get all excited about paedophiles, on the other hand give 13 year old girls the Pill ?

    And then you wonder why the ultra-liberals in the audience are considered with scorn…

  • Markus River

     @5d56d797d6ee613ab8c2cd86c7bfb8e3:disqus

    Rarely has so much shouting been accompanied by so little clarity.  What on earth are you talking about?

  • theroadmaster

    The unrelentingly negative stats regarding teenage pregnancies, STDs, divorces,abortions are startling reminders of the monumental failure of past and present administrations and opinion-makers in the UK to face up to the ineffectiveness of the present morally bankrupt policies.   Initially there should be an honest re-evaluation of them and at least a second look at the much scorned social mores that acted as effective moral fire-breaks in times past to prevent societies from being consumed by major firestorms. 

  • theroadmaster

    While not wanting to live in a theocratic state, I’m sure that you can appreciate the meltdown of many communities in UK cities, which in large part is due to the directionless drift of society lacking a trusted moral compass.  The gloomy statistics and facts listed in the main piece are food for thought, regarding the ramifications of the aforementioned realities.

  • teigitur

    Nail on head! People like jbyrne24 allow their luke warm attitude to  Christ and his Church to colour all their beliefs.

  • teigitur

    Since you have repeated this. I presume you have many nightmares.

  • theroadmaster

    Sex without the responsibilities or consequences attached to it, has too long been the password of modern, western societies.  It undermines the natural order of things and we can the social consequences of it, rise in abortion, teenage pregnancies and STDs. etc.  The present wisdom as exhibited in the promotion of more contraception or abortion to counter these problems has fallen clearly failed because of it’s adherence to blind, bankrupt ideology over recommended tried and tested moral advice that works.

  • theroadmaster

    Sex without the responsibilities or consequences attached to it, has too long been the password of modern, western societies.  It undermines the natural order of things and we can see the social consequences of it,  i.e rise in abortions, teenage pregnancies and STDs. etc.  The present wisdom, as exhibited in the promotion of more contraception or abortion to counter these problems, has  clearly failed, because of it’s adherence to blind, bankrupt ideology over recommended tried and tested moral advice that works.

  • JByrne24

    The actions of paedophiles are evil.
    13 year old girls would have been given the pill to avoid an evil – i.e. motherhood at this age.

  • JByrne24

    Many good things undermine “the natural order of things”, such as insulin for diabetics, antibiotics for bacteriological infections, chemotherapy drugs for cancer, paracetamol for headaches……. etc , and many medical and other procedures such as screening tests.

    And YES, the present day attitude to sex (seen as a pleasurable recreational activity, a possible consequence of deep friendship and for bonding) is different from that of the past.
    The contraceptive pill is one of the ways of avoiding bad outcomes.

    I think too that many people have a rosy and unrealistic view of the past, as regards sexual morality.

  • JByrne24

    This was an error. When posting, for some reason, the page “shot up” and I thought that the posting had failed.

    However I do have the odd bad dream – actually mainly about my old Catholic school – really no kidding!

  • JByrne24

    Another way of putting this might be to say that some people with coherent and well-founded beliefs, are often consistent.

  • JByrne24

    My reply (thought lost) below was to Ms Catholic State – read posted “6 hours ago”, when your post read only “3 hours ago”.

  • JabbaPapa

    Two wrongs do not make a right. Two evils certainly do not make a good !!

    You are in a state of complete denial of the Reposit of the Faith.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your irrational state of rebellion is neither coherent nor “well-founded”.

  • teigitur

    LOL oh you really are a hoot!

  • karlf

     So what do you propose to improve the situation?

  • karlf

     The Holy Spirit hasn’t done anything so far, so why expect him to now? Not really a solution to the problem, is it?

  • ms Catholic state

    But these ‘good things’ you speak about do not undermine the moral order.  Contraception on the other hand does undermine the moral order (and the natural order too). 

    And it destroys the future….but our mindless, hedonistic societies don’t seem to care about that!!  How history will mock us.

  • ms Catholic state

    The Holy Spirit is always at work….in response to our prayer.  But where the Holy Spirit is absent ie in our secular world….then that world will die both spiritually and physically.

  • Alan

    Pity you link your sensible comments on promiscuity with totally irrelevant comments about the euro, it spoils your argument.  That aside, I don’t think most politicians particularly support promiscuity, I think  they fall for the line “kids will do it anyway, so we may as well give them contraceptives”.  Kids do what society tells them to do, and society (in the form of the mass media etc.) tells them to do whatever they feel like.  It is the irresponsible media we need to deal with, but how to do this I really don’t know.

  • karlf

     “The Holy Spirit is always at work” well he doesn’t get much done then does he?
    When I mentioned about the terrible fate of millions of suffering children, all around the world, you say nothing. You may pray, but God just sits back and watches it all take place.

  • Alan

    You say everyone has a right to be as promiscuous as they like, but I would add “provided they are prepared to pay for the consequences”.  There is now an enormous NHS bill for STDs, abortions, “unwanted” children, and contraceptives provided for the promiscuous and under-16s.  The rest of us pay for all this.  I commented above on the role of the mass media.  I’m thinking in particular of all the “celebrity” gossip about who is now “in a relationship”.

  • ms Catholic state

    The job of relieving human suffering is your job….hopefully guided by the Holy Spirit.  No doubt you are already aware of this and actually doing something about human suffering. 

    How well you do it or not will to a large extent determine whether you get to Heaven or not.

  • Daniel_Borsell

     Indeed! And how many wise and unimpressionable teenagers have you met?
    I agree, our popular culture radiates poor values and I see this a very serious issue. But as to what we do about it, I really couldn’t say.

  • karlf

     But God knows I can’t do that, while he can.
    Be very grateful that this loving God didn’t make your children join those millions that he lets suffer horribly for this unachievable purpose.

  • ms Catholic state

    God expects you to do what you can to relieve human suffering.  Suffering is part of life outside Paradise in a Fallen world….and it is up to you to help relieve it.

    On this we all shall be judged…at least partly.  Just so you know!

  • karlf

     Again, what does God do to relieve atrocious human suffering? Can you show that he does a single thing?

  • JabbaPapa

    Your uncharitable attitude does not impress.

  • ms Catholic state

    Think about your own responsibility to others first!  God will judge you….you won’t judge God!

  • karlf

    I do quite a lot. Now, please answer my question