Why would you NOT want a sexual health drop in clinic in school?(128 Posts)
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??
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!
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.
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
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.
"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.
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.
"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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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?
"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.
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.
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.)
"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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
Underage sex shouldn't go down well with any responsible parents whatever religion they are. It's illegal for a start. Though nobody seems to care very much about that. I can see the use of a general health clinic in schools. But not handing out contraceptives like sweets.
Having watched the Unsafe Sex programme on TV last night and heard a couple of lads discussing how you are 'not a real man until you've had Chlamydia", I'd want my children to be getting as much proper advice as possible.
I find people's faith that "proper advice" will counteract the effects of a culture of underage sex, misogyny, and easy access to pornography quite touching.
It's not a lack of openness about sex that is causing these problems.
It's a nice thing to have, but it won't touch the genuine pressures teenagers are under when it comes to sex.
I have absolutely no idea why parents wouldn't want a sexual health clinic in a school- particularly an 11-18 school where a fir proportion (2.5 yr groups out of 7) are of age anyway .
I can see a a general teen health and worries set up being more useful and day o use though.
There is clearly a huge need if you have been watching the prog on thrbbc about manchester centre for sexual health. To have a team like that easily accessible to teen would be amazing. They were so good and non judgmental
" I can see the use of a general health clinic in schools. But not handing out contraceptives like sweets. "
Teens are already allowed to go to their GP and get contraceptives. A general clinic in a school is no different to a teen going to the GP.
Underage sex has existed for a long time. I would rather that a teen got medical help than got pregnant. It may well be that a young teen is in an abusive relationship and the school nurse may well be able to get her to see sense. If a school nurse builds up a good relationship with a client then she can help break out of an abusive situation. (ie. 14 year old girl in a sexual relationship with a 24 year old man)
Certainly I do not want contraceptives handed to teenagers like sweets. I want a young teen to have proper advice and councelling before getting contraception. I can't see how such councelling can be done as a casual drop in.
I think if the school is in an area where it is difficult for young people to get to sexual health clinics due to geography and access to public transport then it is a really good idea to have some sort of provision at school. Young people need access to a variety of sources for sexual health and contraceptive advice - school, pharmacy, GP, sexual health clinic etc.
I don't know.
Would it actually be used? Would it operate during school hours- are we talking about missing classes? How can you make it accessible but private? I'd also be worried about the gossip mill starting up.
I imagine you could have a drop in at lunch time and prehaps make an appointment during class time if more time is needed.
I don't think the gossip mill would start up if it was a general clinic.
Young people have a wide range of medical and emotional problems beyond shagging.
Missing class to go and get johnnies?
That would be popular amongst pupils, certainly.
Why does there need to be a clinic at school?
There aren't health clinics in most workplaces.
Why not a clinic at the shopping centre where they hang out after school?
OP has only asked/been asked about a sexual health clinic though.
I could only imagine the potential for humiliation if you were seen going.
I think I agree with AThingInYourLife.
I agree with AthinginYourLife. To my mind, it just adds to the culture of some teen magazines (and indeed a minority of MN) where the thinking is everyone is having under age sexual relations, and it's perfectly acceptable and normal. That's not something I would sign up to. It's not a train of thought I'd want to encourage.
"Why does there need to be a clinic at school?"
Lets think has it got anything to do with the fact that we have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe? Fortunately this number is actually declining and its attributed to the fact that the last government really improved sex education for teenagers. Not all teenagers have sex but many want to and do and contraception/sex education/sexual health advise needs to be freely and easily available for them.
Wouldn't the way round it to broaden it to general health. So students with worries about: acne, weight, smoking, heavy periods, or so on, could go. It might make it easier for students to go too, as if asked why or where you were going you could say "Oh I just keep having these bad headaches."
"Wouldn't the way round it to broaden it to general health."
Of course it would but this would require employing a properly trained nurse and I doubt most state schools have the budget for this and the NHS certainly doesn't.
schoolnurse surely a drop in clinic for sexual health would be run by a fully qualified nurse. Surely widening the clinic to cover general health would not up the cost that much.
I imagine it could save the NHS money simple conditions could be treated by a nurse. Schools have had a lot of sucess treating conditions like anxiety or depression with relience or protective behaviour training. I don't think that teaching and health as as far apart as some people think.
I think a smoking cessation clinic at school is well worth missing Maths for.
So who is going to be working in these "drop-in centres" if not fully trained nurses?
"I think a smoking cessation clinic at school is well worth missing Maths for."
Why not just scrap school entirely and just keep the drop-in clinic?
It will have to either be a trained nurse or doctor but running drop in contraception advise is one thing but adding in obesity clinics acne clinics, clinics for smoking heavy periods etc etc is much more complicated this treatment is obtained through a GP, referrals specialists cost money, as do prescription for medication for these conditions, nurses can be trained to prescribe contraception but unless they are nurse prescribers which few school nurses are a GP would have to prescribe the treatments and this would require nurses liaising with GPs etc the whole thing is unworkable. School nurses like all other nurses are being are also being cut back because there is no money and there is just simply not enough to go round every state school.
Only in the independent sector, (usually only boarding schools) who employ trained nurses and hold regular GP surgeries on the school premises and who obviously "bill" the parents though the fees is this level of health care/education available
This isn't the UK though. In my area there are lots of GPs, and drop in clinics, and radio ads for the postal clamydia testing.
Nearly all schools promote clamydia testing but GPs do not need to be involved because tests are sent off in the post. But theres a big difference between clamydia testing and obesity/acne/stop smoking/heavy periods etc etc clinics this may not be the UK but I be intersted to known if there is any country that can afford to employ properly trainec staff on a regular basis to run this kind of clinic.
The studies of abstinence education have usually shown that sexual behaviour does not decrease but pregnancies and STI increase. Young people are often not comfortable talking to parents (or teachers) so having nurses on the premises would be a real positive.
I really don't understand why people would object.
There is a whole spectrum of possibility between abstinence only education and having a sex clinic in the school.
If schools can afford nurses again why can't we have proper school nurses and not ones solely dedicate to the teenagers that are getting laid?
I have seen this sort of clinic operate (in a wider health clinic sense but everyone knew sexual health was on the table and that was its main use) and it was a tremendous asset in the school. Treating sexual health as a component of general health and teaching teens to take responsibility for their health in all areas was a positive. That was the message it sent out -- responsibility. Not promiscuity.
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.
(hopefully obvious from the context that I mis-typed and meant 'the shame was on the ones who weren't, not were!).
Treating sexual health as a component of general health and teaching teens to take responsibility for their health in all areas was a positive. That was the message it sent out -- responsibility. Not promiscuity.
As a component of general health, I agree, and I think a general health clinic could be a very positive resource for a school.
I think there is a vast difference between what message the school/clinic/adults involved think it sends out, and the actual perception of teenagers about the normality of underage sex. The intention to be open and unshameful about sex is fine in principle, but I think a lot of people are saying how teens don't feel it's shameful already (their parents might, but that's a different issue) - they feel shamed for not being sexually active, and having the evidence that many other people are, right on their doorstep, is going to make that harder. A general health clinic, on the other hand, that covers sexual responsiblity, but also many other areas of health, sounds like a better idea.
Teens are already allowed to go to their GP and get contraceptives. A general clinic in a school is no different to a teen going to the GP.^
Only if it does cover all sorts of other areas of health. If it is only about sex, contraception, etc., then the pressure it puts on others is a big difference. Nobody knows what you go to the GP for, or to a health clinic. Even if you were going to a sexual health clinic elsewhere away from school, it would be a less obvious thing. It's not the fact that it's providing access to contraceptives that is in any way a problem - absolutely, if a teen is going to be sexually active, then they need access to them, and good advice about sex all along - it's just a question of how/when to provide this advice so that it is both easily accessible, and yet at the same time doesn't normalise underage sex in such a way to make non-sexually-active teens feel even more abnormal and pressured than they currently do (when there is already a fair bit of pressure around from all kinds of media showing that all teens do/want is sex, that underage sex is a big issue, that it's happening everywhere/to everyone, etc).
I agree 100% with AThingInYourLife
A school should be a sanctuary where pupils are protected from the pressure to have sex.
If anything should be handed out for free it should be buckets of iced water to throw over the horny little fuckers before they are sent back to class.
OP said that the centre would "operate in school once a week". What happens if someone urgently needs a MAP on one of the non-clinic days? What happens to the service during the holidays?
If the answer is to go to the normal provision, then why not do that anyway?
"if a teen is going to be sexually active, then they need access to them, and good advice about sex all along - it's just a question of how/when to provide this advice so that it is both easily accessible, and yet at the same time doesn't normalise underage sex in such a way to make non-sexually-active teens feel even more abnormal and pressured than they currently do"
I agree OP Iv'e read the replys and I still cannot understand why you would not want a health clinic in school.
My school had one.
It was an absolute godsend. I truly believe it prevented many teenage pregancies, as well as educating us at the same time.
It's easy for kids to go get condoms, but not that they will. These places give the information as well as free contraception.
Ours also give the morning after pill.
They also did STI tests and treatments. They had to treat nearly half of the lads in year 9 at the start of the year, after the summer holidays.
I don't think putting it in a school makes it easily accessible though. Everyone knows where people sit for lunch, in a small school, and if you're not in Maths the day that the clinic happens to run, well, everyone will know where you are, won't they? So you wouldn't go.
I like the buckets of water idea
Before we had this place, we'd have to catch the bus after school to go to the brook advisory centre. which wasnt reliable, but a chance at that age we took.
Oops- cross posts with GhostShip. I'm honestly really surprised that so many of them went!
Annunziata - the whole point is to make it not a big deal to go. Introducing the clinic through a general sex ed lesson. No-one was ashamed of going in my school. Probably because the 'popular kids' went.
Of course having it in school makes it more accessible. What about teens that have been grounded but desperately need MAP or such like and cannot tell their parents.
cross posted again ha.
Seriously, most teens arent ashamed of things like this. If they need the help they'll go and get it. I'm now 21 and not much has changed according to my younger brother who has just left the same school. A lot of them seemed to show off about going to be honest.
We all went to brook to, in massive groups. It wasn't a big deal but it would of been better being in the school.
Inneed - same here! But like you said, if we were grounded we were done for! Or if we had got detention after school.
That's quite interesting. I suppose it wouldn't be the same everywhere though. I get the impression it wouldn't work in my own DC's school. The gossip mill is ferocious.
Thanks for all the replies.
It really helpful to see the range of opinions. I suppose there will always be problems, hitches, and the question of what to do in the holidays (we're fairly rural, not many options). Personally though, I'm more sure that I'd want the children to have an option to go and see someone, and to see getting advice and information as a normal and healthy approach, not something you only do in a panic when it is too late.
Plus we're in a city, so plenty of other places to go.
i live in Bristol it is quite a big city with a brook (open everyday for drop in), bristol sexual health service clinc (again open everyday for drop in), Drs that do swabs and in every single part of Bristol there is at least 2 clinics a week. I still say in school would be much better with nurses trained specifically for teens would be so much better.
I hope the point that you're also taking on board, is that that people who might not think it's a great idea, are not ultra-conservatives who are aghast at the idea of teen receiving advice or contraception, as this is not the case. It's not simply people objecting because they don't like the idea of teens being sexually active, or that they want to sweep the problem under the carpet. Rather, it's people describing how much pressure there is already on teens to think that sex is normal and something everyone does already, and how these sorts of clinics at school would have increased that perception. It's not in any way suggesting that under-age sex doesn't happen, or that there should not be plenty of advice and contraception available, merely that people could underestimate the effect that peer pressure has on teens who wouldn't otherwise be wanting to be sexually active, by making them feel abnormal and out of step with their peers. There are two different populations that are affected - those who are sexually active and need advice and contraception, and those who are not but might become so, simply because of the constant pressure to act like everyone else, who appear (from media and elsewhere) to all be having sex. I think it is easy to forget this second group, or to dismiss those who have concerns about a clinic as simply being out-of-touch, conservative, closed-minded about sex, etc., when that is not always the case.
"No-one was ashamed of going in my school. Probably because the 'popular kids' went. "
In other words, the provision of such services on site not only pressurizes children into seeing underage sex as something that they are virtually expected to indulge in... but that it is what the cool, popular kids do? So that it is pretty much something to aspire to? Awful.
If only from a health point of view, I think this is a good idea.
Strange how in almost 2013
most a lot of people still cannot deal with sex education in a down-to-earth way... While a rampant sexualised society is all around us.
Apart from HIV etc. and related info, isn't UK one of the world's highest teenage pregnancy rates?
Why would you want to perpetuate that?
If people can drop in to a clinic and get confidential Sexual Health info in all its facets, only a good thing in my view.
not sure how it can be confidential having it in a school tho
they don't like the idea of teens being sexually active
Of course not, but this is the reality. So you have to deal with it.
Preferably at home! And also in school.
How about teaching children that they have autonomy over their own (mind &) body...!
No cavell, not in other words no.
More like the kids knew they wouldn't get bullied for going, because even the 'popular' kids had sexual health worries. It put everyone on equal par.
You can twist it to whichever way you want to back up your own beliefs, but it wasn't like that at all.
I'm a person who benefited from having a sexual health clinic in my school, among with hundreds of others. It isn't about what you want. It's about what these kids need. They're going to do it regardless, we did it before the clinic came along. But the clinics make it safer, so much so.
"My school had one.
It was an absolute godsend......
....They also did STI tests and treatments. They had to treat nearly half of the lads in year 9 at the start of the year, after the summer holidays. "
So, in your experience, the provision of a sexual health clinic in a school coincided with a huge outbreak of STDs in 13-year-olds?
(How do you know this, anyway? No confidentiality issues here?)
How did ghost say it coincided, she said they treated it. Talk about twisting words and adding on things....
I'm not twisting words at all. Why on earth would almost half of Y9 boys be treated for STDs if they hadn't contracted them in the first place? I don't see how else her words could be interpreted, really. Perhaps someone could elucidate?
(Or maybe you think I was inferring that the outbreak occurred immediately after the clinic opened. Well, I wasn't. I was simply remarking on the extraordinarily high rate of STD infections despite - or, just possibly, because of - the existance of a sexual health clinic on the school site.)
Yes of course silly me, people purposely get STD's to get antibiotics....
How on earth would the existence of the STD clinic account for the outbreak of the STDs?
Year 9 is about the stage of the onset of puberty for a lot of boys. They would have got the clap with or without the clinic in existence.
My DCs went to a school that had a clinic. The clinic was basically the school nurse's office, which was on a section of the second floor of the building where there were several admin offices. You could drop by at lunch or before school or after school up to 5 pm. Students could make an appointment via email or phone or text. The nurse office liaised with other social services available in the school such as the counselling office and also with local social service providers and of course the school was a statutory reporter for suspected abuse of all kinds. There were no lockers nearby and no classrooms or lunch rooms.
Made no difference to the DCs' behaviour or to the behaviour of any other teens as far as I could see. Those who came from families where supervision was lax and where parents let the children out until all hours at night, who didn't expect their children to go to school to work and get good grades ended up engaging in risky sexual behaviour. The other category of children who engaged in risk-taking of a sexual nature were those from over-strict homes who did it to rebel or because they were too used to accepting the authority of a male figure and trusting anyone who said they would take care of things. Sadly, the girls from these homes often were the ones who ended up pregnant. However, luck for them, the nurse's office was there when they needed a pregnancy test and someone to accompany them if they felt it necessary to have moral support when telling their parents.
Parents who are up in arms about outside influences are usually parents who have managed to alienate their children all by themselves through their fear- based militancy and stridency. If your children are going to be so easily led astray that the existence of a std clinic or one offering sexual health services is going to drive them into the arms of seduction then you have not been a very effective parent.
So cavell you're saying they all went out and got themselves an STI because of the clinic
Well funnily enough no-one even knew we were getting the clinic until we walked into school after the holidays and had an assembly. So your twisting of words has failed
And I know this because they all told us! They weren't ashamed. I don't think some of you understand the teens of today. It's not taboo anymore.
I don't think you can entirely blame the parents for children being affected by outside influences. I'm not speaking as a parent, but remembering back to what it was like as a child. My parents did try to make me strong and confident, and instil certain values - and in one sense, it worked; I certainly didn't engage in any sort of underage sexual activity, and didn't want to. I was also pretty shy and didn't have the opportunity as result. But it left me with the feeling of being totally abnormal, out-of-step, and utter misfit. This is not something I'd have discussed with parents or teachers, as of course the message they were all trying to get across was confidence and making your own choices. It's just that it didn't work. There is a lot of pressure around, and while you might be strong enough not to give into the pressure, your self-esteem doesn't necessarily increase as a result.
I don't think trying to consider this side of the debate as well is fear-based militancy or stridency, or suggesting that children are driven into the arms of seduction. Just that for many teens, there is already such a sexualised world around them that it feels like everyone already is, despite what your parents might be trying to teach you, and that knowing you're not can be an unhappy experience and lead some more vulnerable children into more than they are ready for. Even if you think that their parents are to blame for that, they are still a vulnerable group, and I think it's worth considering the effect that clinics can have on others. There certainly needs to be ways of getting the advice and resources out there to those who are sexually active, and I think that is a very valuable service that could be provided - but I think there are ways of doing it that might reduce the focus on sex and put it in a more general context of health responsibility. It's very much NOT saying that underage sex isn't happening, or that it doesn't need services. Just making sure that other points of view are expressed so that they can all be considered when trying to decide how best to provide services. It might be that having the clinics in the schools does, on balance, provide the best compromise between the various vulnerable groups - but you can't do the balancing and work that out unless you have some sense of the perspective of other groups of teens that could be affected. Just dismissing them as children whose parents should have taught them more confidence isn't helpful.
Teens don't just need std tests from clinics. What if they have really heavy periods and want contraception to help combat that, or they have a spot/skin tag and need someone to say that's normal. Or they want to talk to someone who is not their parent about whether to have sex or not. I would much prefer my dc to be able to access any advice they need in a straight forward easy to access way.
Or thrush or bacterial vaginosis that they don't know what it is and are the drs are not easy to access when your grounded.
I can't think of anything that a sexual health clinic might offer that I would be opposed to.
I'd hope that they offered it up alongside a bit of advice on how to raise the subject with your parents, but I know that not everyone has reasonable parents.
"If schools can afford nurses again why can't we have proper school nurses and not ones solely dedicate to the teenagers that are getting laid?"
School nurses in the UK working in state schools are employed and paid for by the NHS there are quite simply not enough to go round. Its also quite simple all children are registered with their GPs who gets paid for having them registered and children are expected to approach them about about any health concerns except for contraception which has always been available outside of GP care.
They wouldn't offer anything that I'd be opposed to either.
It's not that sexual health clinics are wrong, it's that I think having an official presence in school entirely dedicated to the specific health concerns of the sexually active teen sends a weird message to the rest if the school population.
Not all teenagers are fucking.
Most feel enormous pressure around sex.
I think a clinic like this at school will make that worse for them.
It's not only the popular kids with boyfriends/girlfriends that matter.
A sexual health clinic is not just for teenagers who are shagging or anyone. It's for your sexual organs health again like I said thrush, bacterial vaginosis or cystitis. Things you get without shagging.
"A school should be a sanctuary where pupils are protected from the pressure to have sex."
Ha ha ha! You do realise that school is probably the place where teens feel most pressured into sexual behaviour by other teens.
A lot of my drop-in clinic visitors were young people just wanting to talk about sex; they weren't necessarily doing it.
School nurses are part of the primary care team. Its matter of managing budgetting and staffing to deliver services efficently.
Watch this is you are not already horrifed by what teens get up to.
Honestly people need to think in the best interests of children. Some kids haven't got parents they can talk to, or they'd rather not in fear of the repercussions (like I was)
Would you rather these kids were walking around pregnant, or with an Sti?
I know one girl who worried herself sick because she thought she had something wrong with her and was too scared to ask her mum to take her to the docs. She eventually went to the clinic and got it sorted: it was just thrush.
The clinics aren't going to pressure anyone.
If they're done properly its a brilliant thing to have. Ours was really informal and the people running it were really down to earth and non judgmental. They really cared.
Such a great thing, especially in the rougher areas.
I am sure such a clinic would be A Good Thing.
I can appreciate the point that it might unintentionally fuel the idea that 'everyone is doing it' and that may make non sexually active teens feel isolated, or wierd. But you have to set that against the benefits of the clinic in terms of pregnancies or STIs avoided, and hopefully, teens being more empowered and self confident.
If it can't be a general YP health clinic (dealing with smoking spots etc etc) - that would counter the 'everyone is doing it' factor- then the nurse should be very positive in giving the message that NOT everybody is doing it.
How does a clinic make a person more empowered and self confident?
I think people's enthusiasm for this kind of thing makes them wildly unrealistic about what it might achieve.
Of like the information available to them. I'd like to hope the view would b to encourage conversation between kid/parent.
I do think the parent should b told if medication is prescribed. Any medication. It will b the parent who will have to help if it fails after all...
Not every parent is a good parent or even bothered...
I'm still waiting for my mother to tell me about the birds and the bees. And DC have the right to privacy - if thye have parents who are open with them and discuss sex and contraception they'll already have told them about it.
I think it would provide contraception including free condoms, preventing unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs. I think it would treat STIs and prevent the consequences of some of those infections going untreated eg future infertility. I think DC are more likley to go to a clinic where they can't bump into their neighbour who's friends with their mum.
I can't see anything wrong in it either.
How does a clinic make a person more empowered and self confident?
How can you not see that it will? Information is power. They'll be able to readily access information about their bodies, what can, will and might happen. They'll be confident in the fact they can go and get the help they need, without awkwardness or embarrassment or getting into trouble. You've got to remember some parents aren't helpful with these sorts of things, either personal reasons or religion.
If we don't have the clinics, it will still happen. Just without the extra safety net
"How can you not see that it will? Information is power. They'll be able to readily access information about their bodies, what can, will and might happen. They'll be confident in the fact they can go and get the help they need, without awkwardness or embarrassment or getting into trouble."
That is the kind of facile, unrealistic shite I'd expect to hear from someone young enough to attend a clinic like this.
First of all, a clinic is not a place where you go to get knowledge.
It will prescribe certain drugs, give out condoms and maybe chat to (willing) teenagers.
If you want a population of pupils to be knowledgeable about sex you need to provide good sex education. That is entirely separate from the provision of a special sex clinic.
Second of all, there is a big difference between the help teenagers think they need and the help adults want to give them.
A clinic such as this won't change the nature of today's teenagers or the culture in which they are growing up.
Having a nurse once a week that a few students can visit to get condoms or pregnancy tests is not going to be some amazing panacea for the sexual dysfunctions of the young.
The ones who are embarrassed about talking to their GP will feel just as awkward about seeing a nurse in school. Either way the connection to authority (parents, school) is explicit.
I would have thought a clinic near (but not in) a school that ran some kind of youth peer advice sessions would be far more likely to gain the confidence of teenagers who distrust or disdain the usual places where contraceptives can be sought out.
"Stick a sex clinic in the school" is about as lazy an idea you could come up with and the things people on this thread are fancifully claiming it would (not might) achieve are laughable.
Do most schools offer c cards and supplies?
Do you think access to a nurse might be helpful for those experiencing non consensual sex? Would it tie in with child protection?
Actually you're wrong there.
The clinics in question are usually ran by Brook Sexual Health Advisory Center. Note the 'advisory' term. They educate as well as give out contraception. Ours ran a class once a week, as well as giving us very detailed information before they gave us condoms, morning after pill etc. They're ran by very experienced sexual health nurses and advisers, trained especially to work with teens. They aren't just people trained to hand out drugs and condoms.
The education they gave was excellent. As I've said before, they were down to earth, straight forward and easy to talk to. Better than a lesson about sex from your out of touch maths teacher.
People were interested, and genuinely learned a lot. They taught us about STI's, it actually encouraged people to use condoms, something which I'd not seen before.
The ones who are embarrassed about talking to their GP will feel just as awkward about seeing a nurse in school. Either way the connection to authority (parents, school) is explicit
Again you're wrong. I was on of those kids. I knew many. At 14 we weren't old enough to make doctors appointments and travel to get their, we had to ask our parents. Talking to one of the 'advisors' was completely different. It wasn't even like talking to a nurse, they dressed in jeans and t-shirts, a ploy to help us connect better with them. It worked.
And the school itself didn't have much connection. Everything was confidential. A person would just drop in during break or dinner and get the help they need. NO teacher knew what you were doing, there was no teacher involvement.
Funny how you pooh pooh what I'm saying, when I'm someone who is now an adult and has the experience of one of these clinics.
And I was pretty open to you ideas until you tried to insult me due to my age, maybe your age is one of the reasons you're so out of touch with todays youth? Not nice to be judged on your age is it.
It's a good idea.
I should have been on the pill years before I was, and my mother wasn't happy then (I was 17).
Every month I would flood, pass clots and throw up. Almost every month I was brought home from school by a teacher (remember when they used to do that).
Certainly underage sex does not go down well with strict muslim parents Huge generalisation there. And I don't think any parents like the idea of their children having under age sex.
But one group this could protect is a girl who is taken out of the country to marry at age 14 or 15. Girls who are whisked out of the country in this way are often allowed home if/ when they are pregnant. If they don't become pregnant after a year then they are often not wanted as wives.
Yes it is terrible, yes it is a tiny minority, but if it is just one girl it is worth having a clinic.
I do think though, that a general health clinic might be better than just a sexual health clinic. And things could be brought to the attention of the school, without breaching confidentiality for an example at my all girls' school there appeared to be an 'outbreak' of conjunctivitis. It was actually caused by sharing mascara. If a nurse has seen a couple of cases of conjunctivitis then maybe that can be passed on as an anouncement in class - don't share eye make up.
I had my DDs and DS inoculated against HPV. Not because I was telling them to (1) go out and have sex if you wish now or (2) you never need a pap smear, girls. I see the existence of a clinic (a general clinic that includes expertise in matters of sexual and genital health along with functions such as calling parents to take a child home if they have a fever or d&v bug, and monitoring them when they are ill -- and yes, period issues, injuries in PE or science classes or cooking, etc) along the same lines.
I think parents who talk about the importance of confidence are missing the point completely. Effective parents nurture confidence without ever mentioning the word. You can't tell people to have it.
Children who are in need of advice on sex or help when it comes to matters of sexual health in a school clinic are almost by definition children who can't go to their parents for that help for whatever reason.
I'm as liberal as they come and I think this is a terrible idea.
I think it would amplify peer pressure and bullying for lots of school kids in different ways - peer pressure amongst groups of friends to go to it and get the pill and generally be sexually active, bullying of girls seen going to the clinic as slags, peer pressure on boys to prove boasting about sexual activity by visits to the clinic, playing with condoms at school / bullying kids who have contraceptives in their bags and lockers... Just everything to do with using the service would be mixed up with the herd mentality of secondary school.
By all means have a regular clinic which is easy to access and welcoming to teenagers, just keep it right away from school.
The terrible attitudes that would lead to that sort of bullying might be something the clinic could work on?
I have to agree with the pressure to have sex. Virgin was frequently used as an insult in our school, to which there was no comeback, because who wanted to admit to being a virgin?
A clinic like this in a school would be a clear marker of who the "cool kids" were who had sex. Then, you'd get the girls who wanted to appear like they were cool asking for the contraceptive pill, which does not suit everyone.
I can't believe a mass outbreak of STI's in year 9's is mentioned so casually upthread. These are 13 year old's. For so many of them to be sexually active is a child protection issue.
There is more to a healthy, happy sex life then contraception and openness. Particularly in the misogynist society we live in, something which a lot of sex education doesn't even being to tackle, instead emphasising girls from an increasingly younger age being "safely available" for boys. It's depressing.
Am I supposed to be filled with shock and horror when mentioning it? It isn't a child protection issue. The teens wanted to have sex with each other. There's nothing wrong with that at all. And I don't remember anyone being insulted for being a virgin, no-one was bothered.
Gothanne how old are you? Year 9 is 10/11 years ago for me but the shagging around had started. It wasn't a big deal some did some didn't it was not a child protection issue. Some girls stayed virgins till after we left school and no they didn't get called names for it.
For every school where virgin is used as an insult I suspect there is another one where the insult of choice is slut. Actually, more often than not they're probably the same school...
"emphasising girls from an increasingly younger age being "safely available" for boys. It's depressing."
It really is.
And yes, virgin and slut are used in the same schools by the same people.
Girls have a very thin line to tread between them to behave acceptably.
The idea that teenage sex is all innocent exploration of the beauty of sexuality is very wide of the mark.
And a clinic in the school won't change that.
It will just give underage sex the school's imprimatur.
I would love love love a clinic in every single school up and down the country. The rates of teenage pregnancy's would drop even more. ATM we have the lowest rate of teen pregnency's since the 60s and I'm sure it's because clinics that are already in schools and greater education has been the key.
Personally, I think it while it sounds like your town needs a drop in clinic/consulting rooms for advice, but I don't think the school is the right location - while the actual advice and help they would get would be private, it would be hard in a school to keep the fact that children had gone for advice private. That would be enough in some schools.
It also makes it the school's responsibilty/problem - now while the school itself won't have any control over what is said and what is handed out, it will be the school that any upset parents blame.
There is also an annoying trend that all social problems are the responsibility of schools to fix, that the only people with any sort of role in children's lives are schools and it's the only place they can turn for help.
Also OP - this gives the impression the only time you'll need help/advice is if you are a school pupil - if your health centre isn't an easy place to access advice in private (huge problem there), then perhaps a drop in centre that older teens/home-eded pupils could access without it being a 'school' thing would help? Surely there are other public buildings in your town? (library? Council offices?) Or the other idea of consulting rooms at the pharmacy does sound good.
InNeed - I'm 32. Not sure if you're trying to imply that I'm some fusty old prude.
Someone upthread specifically referred to year 9 pupils, those are 13 year olds. If 13 is perfectly fine as an age to have sex, why is the age of consent 16?
Also, I don't think that cutting the rates of teenage pregnancies and STI's are all we need to be concerned with. For young teenage girls, such issues are just the tip of the iceberg.
"There is also an annoying trend that all social problems are the responsibility of schools to fix, that the only people with any sort of role in children's lives are schools and it's the only place they can turn for help."
The "stick it on the national curriculum" approach to solving problems.
Over the weekend, I have realised that there may be somewhere in town, other than the school. We have a leisure centre, with a few smaller rooms in it. I may suggest that - though it doesn't help the DCs who live rurally (about 20%). In the long term, we hope to build a community centre, but that is a few years away. Plan A had been to have it based there in a teenage cafe. Unfortunately, the current plans don't include that.
To be honest I don't see how unless your elderly (not really an excuse my nan would love for this to happen but I'll give it) or part of some religious cult you can honestly say you wouldn't want easy safe access for your teens to a sexual health clinic, and how you couldn't possible understand these clinics are not just for STDs.
Teenage sex does happen 30% before the age of 16, school age has been made to 18 leaving age soon/now to so even if they wait till 16 thats still 2 years of legal sex to be had while still at school.
But yes lets just preach abstinence and have more teen pregnencys and STDs instead
It is possible to want teens to have access to a sexual health clinic and not want that clinic to be at their school.
InNeed - No one is saying "preach abstinence". No one.
However, the fact that your response is to deem anyone who disagrees with you as "old" speaks absolute volumes. There are major underlying issues with what we are teaching our young people with regards to relationships, it's about more then just pregnancy and STI's.
For young teenage girls, such issues are just the tip of the iceberg
I'd say getting pregnant is at the very tip of many girls 'icebergs'. Its the one thing that can dramatically change their life forever, and they need access to the information and contraception.
I honestly don't what to patronise anyone here, but some of you musnt know what life is like for some people. In a dream world kids can speak to their parents about stuff like this and get the things they need, in A LOT of cases this doesn't happen, for whatever reason.
I'm one of those people, the clinic was a godsend when it came and others felt the same. We were having sex anyway, taking risks, this happened BEFORE it came. The clinic came and made it safer, we had someone to talk to, somewhere we could go and address our fears. Seriously not many people want to talk about thick discharge to their mums! Or the fact that they need the morning after pill!
gothanne your last line, funny how someone arguing the same side as you was the first person to bring age into the conversation, saying my view was to be expected because of my age.
'There is also an annoying trend that all social problems are the responsibility of schools to fix, that the only people with any sort of role in children's lives are schools and it's the only place they can turn for help. '
The school is actually the ideal place to use as the point of contact with teens who need help, because that is the one place 99% of them go. The school where I saw a health clinic work well (with sexual health included as part of the services) functioned as a clearinghouse for any other services students seemed to need. It was part of an umbrella group called Community Care Network where all the responsible professionals could easily communicate and co-operate for the benefit of students referred to community agencies for various issues.
Haven't read all the messages, but agree absolutely with lastSplash. As a teacher I know darn well that a 'sexual health drop in' clinic in our school would be a complete nightmare.
Anyone going into it would be the immediate subject of horrendous gossip - as in 'OMG - X has got VD. It's totally true. They went to see the nurse about it' whereas they may well have gone because they were worried about period pains. Shy and quiet boys would have the mickey taken out of them if they didn't have condoms like the cocky (sorry) boys. They would be under dreadful pressure to either accept other lads (and girls) mocking them, or suffer the mortification of going and asking for condoms from a health nurse - awful situation for a sensitive 13/14 year old boy to be in. The rumours about who was pregnant/who'd got the clap, etc would be constant. There are certainly plenty of kids in our school who would simply go to see the nurse to snigger and make comments like, 'my gf won't take it up the arse and I've told her it's normal' and 'I had 3 girls suck my cock yesterday - will it fall off?'
The trouble with providing a facility like this is that the adults discussing it assume that it will be used sensibly, sensitively and with maturity by the clients. In a school full of teens/pre teens it won't. It will simply be used to provide bragging rights/bullying/trying to embarass the nurse.
What sort of homes do these children 'grow up' in? Who is bringing them up?
Are responsible, professional, educated and presumably well-trained-to-deal-with-teenagers adults really as powerless to intervene and stop this rot as Sowornout and LastSplash imply?
If you are talking of our pupils then a lot of them grow up in homes that are pretty rough. Often no one is 'bringing them up'. Quite a few have parents who are alcoholics, or drug users, or too tired and defeated, or simply not interested enough to care about their kids. They are tough, streetwise, quite a lot are 'cared for' children (or in foster care as we used to call it). A fair percentage (particularly 14/15 yo boys) are being cared for by granny and grandad. We are in a coastal area and a lot of our pupils are actually from very rough inner cities - by 14/15 they are into drugs or gangs or gun crime; and mum is a single parent with 4 or 5 kids from different fathers. BUT....granny/grandad have retired to the coast and mum can't cope with her wild 14 yo son any more so she dumps him on granny for a fresh start. We are in an area of massively high unemployment/seasonal employment. Low wages. No industry. Very little incentive for kids to get qualifications (or so they believe). And we are doing our best. But believe me, despite being highly professional and well trained (and very experienced) if you have never taught in a tough and challenging school then you can have no idea how impossible it is to 'stop' this type of behaviour. You can clamp down on it - no one will step out of line in my classroom for example. But you will not stop the jeering and the whispering and the bullying at lunchtime or out of school. If you've never seen a 15 yo girl made suicidal by a vicious Facebook campaign then you are very lucky. A sexual health clinic in school would provide HUGE fuel for this type of thing. And unfortunately teachers have no control over FB.
See you think that, but I went to one of the roughest schools in the area where kids were from shit backgrounds and didn't haven't much upbringing, and the bullying didn't happen. If implemented in the right way it won't.
I was one of those kids that got dumped on granny before I got put into foster care. And I went to a school exactly how you describe and worse (apart from the seaside aspect) and we all traipsed around catching buses to go (there was no real shame it was normal) to the clinic and I know a lot of girls who just crossed their fingers and hoped as they couldn't get to the clinic to get the MAP.
Your also hearing first hand from ghost who had this experience in school herself, something that you don't have no matter how you charmingly describe your students.
gothanne your last line, funny how someone arguing the same side as you was the first person to bring age into the conversation, saying my view was to be expected because of my age. Yes that, are you religious to?
Our school (state school, reasonable catchment, good grades etc) does have this sort of facility but it is advertised as a general health service:
'Health and Well-being: The School Nurse will be holding a drop-in service
every Monday lunch time in Room 22'
They also have a Counsellor available by appointment on Thursdays and a Careers Advisor by appointment on Wednesdays! So trying to cover pupils needs where possible. This is advertised in the same place as the Chess club, knitting club etc. probably so its made out to be life as normal and no big deal!
I am another who cannot see how that set of issues couldn't be tackled. Surely you are wasting your time trying to teach children without trying to sort out the pastoral element first or at the same time, and not just from the pov of maintaining order?
The school I attended (in Ireland) had a very mixed intake and when I was there it was definitely just starting on its way downhill. The factors in the slide were the structure of the Irish secondary curriculum, which really didn't cater for students who were a long way behind, and the increasing numbers of children attending from two massive housing estates, from all kinds of dysfunctional families, and staying in school after age 16, in conjunction with the presence of teachers who had been trained to teach the rather academic curriculum and hired because they had top honours degrees in their subjects. After a very rocky ten years the school slowly pulled itself back to functionality, opened a creche for the babies and small children of students (and teachers), got MH counsellors and a nurse on site, hired teachers with a proven track record of dealing effectively with troubled teenagers and not necessarily just honours degrees.
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