By Hilary White

LONDON, April 28, 2008 ( – The Sunday Times has revealed that between ten and fifteen twelve year-old girls in Britain have abortions every year. The Times acquired the numbers from a reluctant Department of Health only after an appeal through freedom of information legislation and an order from the information commissioner. The documents also showed that in 2004, 142 thirteen-year-old girls had abortions, up from 138 in 2003. The Times reports that the government refused for three years to release the numbers.

The response from abortion advocates, however, has been that the number of girls is “tiny” and that the British people simply need to accept the fact that children are having sex and becoming pregnant and that abortion continues to be the best solution.

The Times quotes Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which runs a chain of abortion clinics, who said, “Children grow up very quickly in our society. They are maturing faster physically, psychologically and socially, and society just has to come to terms with that.”

“Both parents and teachers need to be able to provide them with the sex education information they need.” 

Furedi’s comments follow closely on her assertion earlier this month that the nearly 200,000 abortions committed in Britain in 2006 were “not a problem”.

This weekend Britain’s newspapers and broadcast news carried the story of Britain’s new thirty-something generation of grandmothers, women who had children in their teens and whose daughters have now grown up to do the same. Since the inception of the Labour government’s policies on sex education in schools and ever-increasing state support for single mothers, the teen pregnancy rate has soared to be the highest in Europe.

Meanwhile the government continues to recommend still more “Sex and Relationship Education” (SRE), be offered to ever younger British school children, while admitting that there has been no research guiding the policies.

The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) said in a media release, “Evidence shows that quality SRE has a direct impact on reducing teenage pregnancy rates and is an essential strand of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.”

The DCSF asserts that SRE “delivery is still patchy. We know that many young people feel they are not getting sex and relationship education which provides them with the knowledge and skills they need to make safe and well-informed choices.”

The government’s assertion of “evidence” that SRE reduces teenage pregnancy, however, is difficult to confirm since Jim Knight, the Minister of State for Schools and Learners admitted that the Department for Children, Schools and Families has never commissioned any research studies on the subject.

Knight told the House of Commons in February, “The Department has not commissioned research on the impact of SRE on the attitudes and lifestyle choices of young people.”

Nevertheless, despite the lack of evidence that their methods work to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, Knight maintained that the Department has “given a commitment to review best practice in effective SRE and how it is delivered in schools.” He would say only that the Department has “listened to young people” who, he said, “feel that they do not currently have the knowledge they need to make safe and responsible choices about relationships and sexual health”.

On March 25, when asked what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of SRE, Knight again told the House of Commons that, despite its “commitment to review best practice” the Department still had no idea what exactly that may entail. Knight said “The Department has not made an assessment of the effectiveness of sex education in England.”

He repeated the Departmental slogan that they have “given a commitment to review best practice in effective sex and relationship (SRE) and how it is delivered in schools.”

“We have listened to young people and recognise that many feel that they do not currently have the knowledge they need to make safe and responsible choices about relationships and sexual health.”

In early April, the Department of Children, Families and Schools issued a tart statement saying it did not agree with the assessment of Mr. Justice Coleridge, a Family Division judge for England and Wales, who said that the “epidemic” of “family failure”, and in general the government’s approach to young people, sex and marriage, have been a disaster for Britain.

In a speech in Brighton to lawyers from the group Resolution, the judge said in his practice he had been witness to a “never ending carnival of human misery – a ceaseless river of human distress” in the form of broken families and that almost all of British society’s social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life.

“We are experiencing a period of family meltdown whose effects will be as catastrophic as the meltdown of the ice caps,” said Coleridge. He said the scale of the collapse is such that it would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago, when Tony Blair’s “New Labour” took power.

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