Why would you NOT want a sexual health drop in clinic in school?

(128 Posts)
jennycrofter Thu 15-Nov-12 10:22:34

Parent meeting at school last night and the HT said he had been approached to have a drop in centre operate in school once a week. It was a very small meeting (6 parents, 1 pupil rep) and everyone there thought it a good idea, if a relatively private location could be found within the school.

However, the HT was fairly insistent that "parents" would object, and that oral contraceptives would handed out to underage children, which would cause local outrage. We're not in England, so parents apparently don't have a right to know.

I'm of the opinion that anything that makes it easier and safer for the children to access good advice has to be a good thing. If DC were thinking about becoming sexually active I'd want them to be able to access support quickly and easily, from someone trained in exactly that. There is no where else in town that does it, and the local health centre is the least private building I've ever come across.

Any thoughts? Does your school do anything similar? How does it work??

ilovetermtime Thu 15-Nov-12 11:05:06

I completely agree with you, I believe that knowledge is power and that anything that helps keep our kids safe should be encouraged. But I understand why your HT is worried... not everyone thinks like us!

AThingInYourLife Thu 15-Nov-12 11:14:58

I think having a centre like this at school gives the message to teenagers that they should be having sex.

As a teenager I felt enough pressure to be having sex (I wasn't) without my school adding to it.

cavell Thu 15-Nov-12 11:43:22

Agree with AThingInYourLife. I believe it sends out the message that children are almost expected to be having sex.
It also strikes me as somehow bizarre that, on the one hand we have all the current hysteria about witch hunts and paedophile rings... yet on the other, schools are handing out contraceptives to under-age children.

I disagree. I think that openness about sex is far better than making it something shameful, and openly acknowledging that young people are having sex and making contraception freely available is better than unwanted pregnancies and STIs.

Could there not be a compromise and have a drop in clinic to discuss any health issues? That way the service is still there and those students needing sexual advice can get it but it doesn't upset those with different views on sexual health clinics in schools?

I can see it from both sides smile

Littleplasticpeople Thu 15-Nov-12 11:57:28

The parent part of me thinks this is a good idea for all the reasons you listed OP. however, the 15 year old me would feel a lot of pressure to be joining mates going on the pill/collecting MAP etc.

I wouldn't oppose it, but I can see why parents would.

schoolnurse Thu 15-Nov-12 12:06:27

"We're not in England, so parents apparently don't have a right to know."
In the UK parents don't have a "right" to know anything about their child's health including contraception from about 13 yrs old. All this information is confidential and nurses have a legal obligation to maintain this confidentiality.
Secondly there is no evidence that "having a centre like this at school gives the message to teenagers that they should be having sex" but there is plenty of evidence showing that if children have easy access to sexual health advise and contraception then teenage pregnancies are significantly reduced.

jennycrofter Thu 15-Nov-12 12:15:54

I think I can see why some might go just because they could, I think. The pupil rep there though thought that no one would go if it were really obvious what they were doing.

It is a small school (<800) in a small town, with only this one secondary. All the medical support in town is in one place, with a massive open plan reception area, which is why there is a problem with using the facilities at the health centre - you'd more than likely bump in to your granny in to have her corns done.

We did suggest the consulting rooms in the local pharmacies as an alternative, but I'm not sure how workable that it.

AThingInYourLife Thu 15-Nov-12 12:17:40

"openly acknowledging that young people are having sex and making contraception freely available is better than unwanted pregnancies and STIs."

But not all young people are having sex, that needs to be acknowledged too.

The shame a lot of teenagers feel about sex is that they are not having it, or not having enough of it.

Why make school into another place where that pressure is brought to bear?

jennycrofter Thu 15-Nov-12 12:22:35

Thanks schoolnurse I thought it was 14 in England. Either way, the HT seemed to think parents biggest problem would be not knowing that their DC were receiving the advice - but as far as I can see they'd have no right even if the DC did pluck up the courage to go to the GP, making it a daft argument. Actually I'm glad it's that young. I remember how far away 16 seemed when I was 14, or even 15.

Even with the small number of replies here, I can see that there would be a variety of opinions. I know I'd rather my DC were informed, but can see that others may not feel the same.

senua Thu 15-Nov-12 12:23:27

I agree with restrainedrabbit: a health clinic which addresses all sorts of issues, with sexual health as a subset of that, is less contentious. Obviously they couldn't be experts in everything but they could show the pupils how/where to find help (a useful exercise in itself)

BirdyBedtime Thu 15-Nov-12 12:25:33

I agree entirely that we don't want to be encouraging underage sex, but I really dont think that having such a centre would actively lead to more teenagers having sex. Also, the fact of the matter is that underage children DO have sex whether we like it of not, and if a centre like this means the one teenage pregnancy or STD is prevented because one or both partners had access to condoms etc that they might not otherwise, then it's a good thing. I'd hope my DCs don't have to use such a centre when the time comes (they are still primary age) but some parents can't/won't discuss these things, or their DCs don't want to talk to them about them and so it's important that services are available, and a school is an ideal location.

Athing - school is proabably one of the places where most pressure about sex is already going on so I really don't think this would add to it.

Sidge Thu 15-Nov-12 12:33:24

As a former CASH trained school nurse (and now practice nurse) I disagree that it promotes sexual behaviour. IME provision of CASH services do not encourage young people that wouldn't otherwise become sexually active to do so.

I also disagree that "schools are handing out contraceptives to under-age children." They're not - school is just the location; health professionals assess need for contraception not schools. It's not that different to having a clinic next to a youth club or New Look...

When we ran our drop-in Health Clinic we saw the same people fairly regularly and could soon see which young people were there just to check it out or felt they had to come along to be in with their mates. They were the minority.

The nurses do assess each young person you know, they don't just hand out pills and condoms like party bags. We have a professional responsibility to ensure that IF a young person is sexually active they are safe, consenting, appropriate, not being coerced and are (IME) always encouraged to talk to a parent that they are using contraception.

TheWave Thu 15-Nov-12 12:49:04

Knowledge is power and teenagers need this, especially those that with parents that turn their backs on the topic/assume their child doesn't know about sex etc. I agree with what Sidge said about helping them to be safe and consenting etc.

Good idea to have it in school where in the town, the health centre is so open, agree that could be labelled differently as health and relationships centre, as that's what it would be in the first instance. Are there other examples that others know about?

cavell Thu 15-Nov-12 12:58:47

"schools are handing out contraceptives to under-age children." They're not - school is just the location;

Well, by that logic, and if you really want to be so pedantic, you can't access contraceptives from a clinic either, but rather from the health-care professionals working there.

ReallyTired Thu 15-Nov-12 13:08:38

I think a general health clinic is a good idea. It could give advice on acne, exam anxiety etc. as well as contraceptive advice. There could even be a GP available occassonally. The school nurse could act as triage to prevent the GP's time being wasted.

No I do no want a sexual health clinic in school. It would be too blatent what the girl was going for. I think that teens would be less embrassed going to a general health clinic within a school than a sexual health clinic.

cavell I think Sidge's point was that school personnel (teachers, TAs, dinner ladies etc) are not handing out contraceptives. Trained HCPs are, it is merely on school grounds.

Really why assume that only girls would go? Interesting point about a general health clinic though.

Sidge Thu 15-Nov-12 13:15:13

cavell don't be daft, you know exactly what I mean.

People get their knickers in a knot about things like this and HPV jabs being given in school etc because they have an overlap in their mind about education/health.

Just because educational premises are being used to offer a service that is predominantly health based doesn't mean education are involved - young people aren't being taught to go and have sex, or that teachers are doing a HCP job.

(I know that's not what you necessarily thought cavell just making a general comment.)

ReallyTired Thu 15-Nov-12 13:16:34

"Really why assume that only girls would go? Interesting point about a general health clinic though. "

Lets face it, girls are generally the ones who suffer if they don't use contraceptives. When I was younger, men couldn't give a stuff about the risk of pregnancy or STDs. In an ideal world both boys and girls would go to a family planning clinic. Whenever I have been to the family planning clinic its been about 98% women in the waiting room.

Sadly the sexist attitude that contraception is the women's responsiblity has not died. Sadly there is still the notion that girls who are promicous are slags, but boys are studs.

Going to a family planning clinic is quite a public statement that you are sexually active, especially if its a drop in. I would prefer it if the students were in a waiting room and no one had any idea what their appointment was about.

MorningPurples Thu 15-Nov-12 13:57:53

I can see both sides too. I know that I'd have felt even more pressure, shame etc that I wasn't having sex than I already did. It was already more than obvious to me that there was something wrong with me because I wasn't as interested in boys/dating/sex as so many people my age were, and I really, really felt it. The more it is normalised as something that happens a lot, the more 'different' I'd have felt, and the more pressure there would have been to try to be normal. That's not saying that the clinics encourage underage sex; they might very well be doing what they can to discourage it - but just the fact that they are there would have been a constant reminder that this is what teenagers are getting up to - and therefore, in many teens' minds, what they probably should be getting up to if they want to be normal. There was very little shame attached to the idea of having underage sex - the shame was on the ones who were, who didn't have boyfriends, etc etc.

AThingInYourLife Thu 15-Nov-12 14:27:57

"There was very little shame attached to the idea of having underage sex - the shame was on the ones who were, who didn't have boyfriends, etc etc."

I very much agree.

ReallyTired Thu 15-Nov-12 14:34:01

"There was very little shame attached to the idea of having underage sex - the shame was on the ones who were, who didn't have boyfriends, etc etc."

I think a lot depends on the person's background. Certainly underage sex does not go down well with strict muslim parents. Britain is multicultural and you can not generalise.

What all young people need is acess to confidental advice. They need to be able to get family planning in secret. A general clinic in a school would achieve this.

AThingInYourLife Thu 15-Nov-12 14:42:34

"Certainly underage sex does not go down well with strict muslim parents."

That says nothing about how their teenage children feel about it.

I can see arguments in favour of a general health clinic in schools. Or nearby.

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