Give Children a Future, Not Free Condoms; WHY SCHOOL FAMILY PLANNING CLINICS ARE NO ANSWER
Byline: COLETTE DOUGLAS-HOME
I AM not against teaching children a proper understanding of sex. I am all for being compassionate toward those who get embroiled in it too early for their own physical or emotional good. But I would not want a family planning clinic in my child's school.
I suspect a great many parents in the designated areas won't want it either. If their child has not fallen into the habit of early sex, they won't want him or her to get the impression it is an acknowledged part of school life.
But what other impression can they get with a sex clinic between the classroom and the gym?
If there is a need for a medical confidante, let us appoint school doctors who hold clinics one or two days a week and are responsible for the overall physical welfare of the child.
Have the people who plan to set up Family Planning Clinics in Glasgow's most deprived schools stopped to ask themselves why their services are only needed among the poor?
Why do the children at Hutcheson's Grammar not need free contraception and sexual advice? Or those at The Edinburgh Academy, Dollar Academy or Broughton High School?
What is it that draws poor children to early pregnancy, when their contemporaries in the private sector and in better-heeled state schools grow up before they breed?
Is the answer that better-off children have greater access to contraception? If it were, it would make sense to level the playing field, to hand out condoms to those who are deprived.
But the answer may be hugely more complicated.
Early teenage pregnancy is caused by a variety of factors, and if we want to teach children it is not in their interests to get pregnant, we cannot simply set up stalls in the school corridors and hand out free condoms.
If you are 14 or 15, in a better-off school, you are focused on your Standard Grades because they will carry you on to High-ers and university and an interesting and exciting life.
You will be learning how to compose a CV to go along with your university application.
You will be doing work experience and you will be having school talks from doctors, lawyers, business people and journalists.
They will be telling you what their job is like, with the understanding that you might one day choose a career like theirs.
You will possibly be planning a year out between school and university.
You will be working out ways to raise the money you will need for travelling; deciding in which far-flung bit of the world you want to do voluntary work.
Are you going to land yourself with a baby, just when you can see the end of tedious school and a big, wide, exciting world opening up? Of course not.
What sort of a fool would swop that for single parenthood or the tie of a weekly payment to the Child Support Agency?
So, instead of condoms, let us bring that same sort of hope and optimism to so-called 'sink' schools.
Tony Blair is moving into the worst housing estates in England and Wales with an imaginative programme of inward investment. Donald Dewar is doing the same here - in the precise areas where these schools are placed.
On top of [pounds sterling]300million for housing, a further [pounds sterling]225million has been earmarked to boost environment, jobs, training and commerce on Scotland's most deprived estates. …