South Tyneside teenage pregnancy rates drop

FIGURES FALL ... South Tyneside now has the second lowest teen pregnancy rate in the region.
FIGURES FALL ... South Tyneside now has the second lowest teen pregnancy rate in the region.

The number of teenage pregnancies in South Tyneside has fallen to one of the lowest in the North East.

Health bosses and council chiefs welcomed the new figures as an endorsement of the borough’s sex education and relationship programme.

South Tyneside’s conception figures for 15 to 17-year-olds has decreased from 161 (57.8 per 1000) in 2009 to 108 (39.8 per 1000) in 2010, the second lowest under-18 pregnancy rate in Tyne and Wear.

The Government monitors the rate of teenage pregnancies, based on the number of conceptions among girls aged 15 to 17 per 1,000 of the population.

The latest figures were released by the Office of National Statistics.

Coun Jim Foreman, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for children, young people and families, said: “We are delighted to see that teenage pregnancy rates are improving.

“This substantial reduction is a result of very effective partnership working by the council, the Primary Care Trust, the voluntary sector, parents and, of course, the young people themselves.

“It is only by listening to young people that we have been able to develop services that meet their needs, and work towards addressing this complex issue.”

The partnership invests in programmes, including sex and relationship education, as well as promoting sexual health in both school and out-of-school settings.

Additional services are also provided to vulnerable groups such as looked-after children, refugee and asylum seekers, young offenders, youngsters excluded from school and young people with learning disabilities.

Help is also available for teenage parents to ensure their families have the best start.

Coun Foreman added: “By focusing on prevention through education, we are raising aspirations among young people, and encouraging them to make informed decisions about their lives.

“It is important that we continue the work of the teenage pregnancy partnership, so that we can further improve on this positive result.”

Alice Wiseman, children’s commission manager for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “Teenage pregnancies are a top priority for us, and the focus of our attention has been to develop education programmes in schools and community settings, to ensure education addresses both emotional health and wellbeing issues, and wider risk-taking behaviour, such as drinking alcohol.

“This approach promotes wellbeing by addressing the behavioural, emotional and the social needs of children and young people across a range of settings.”

She added: “Young people in South Tyneside also have easy access to condoms, chlamydia screening and sexual health advice, and we have developed this programme to make it even more accessible for young people.”

Helen Watson, corporate director for children and families at South Tyneside Council, said: “This is very positive news.

“A lot of effort has been put in to reduce these figures, and it’s heartening to see that having such a significant effect.”

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