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Call to give pupils free condoms

The government has been urged to ensure schoolchildren receive free condoms and to introduce compulsory sex and relationship classes in primary schools to cut the rate of teenage pregnancies.

Labour MP Chris Bryant's report also calls for parents to be sent a booklet on their child's 11th birthday, which would encourage them to talk openly about sexual health.

The report said that while the rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK has fallen from the late 1990s, it is still the highest in Western Europe and the second highest, after the US, in the world.

The report said: "The dangers of ignorance about sex are clear. Without proper information, many teenagers will not acquire the personal confidence or social skills to be able to make informed choices about sex before the onset of puberty and before sexual opportunities arise.

"A reliance on providing just the basic biological facts, rather than the emotional or indeed spiritual context for sex can leave many youngsters painfully exposed to highly sexualised media messages and peer pressure."

In 2005, there were 39,804 conceptions by under 18s in England - a rate of 41.3 per thousand.

Chris Bryant

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