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Girl, 13, given contraceptive implant at school in Southampton
HOW many children aged between 11 and 16 are receiving contraceptive implants in school without their parents’ knowledge?
That is the question being posed by one furious mum who said it was “morally wrong” to fit the 4cm device into her 13- year-old daughter’s arm, claiming it led to serious mood swings and weight gain.
She said even the girl’s doctor had not been informed and her daughter’s friends had also received them while other parents were frantically inspecting their children’s arms.
The Daily Echo has learnt that a total of nine schools are involved in the sex education initiative, which is part of a government scheme to drive down unwanted teenage pregnancies and protect young people from sexually transmitted infections.
The three remaining secondary schools have opted to decline the service.
But health chiefs were unable last night to tell the Daily Echo exactly how many youngsters have been fitted with the controversial device.
And one school chairman of governors says he may bring the matter to a full board meeting where the fitting of implants in school will be questioned.
The mum, who the Daily Echo has chosen not to identify, claims it was left to her daughter to simply fill out a questionnaire about her medical history and undergo a consultation with health experts before receiving the contraceptive.
And she alleges there was a lack of follow- up appointments after her daughter received the Nexplanon birth control.
Health chiefs told the Daily Echo that letters were sent to all parents at participating schools in 2009 when the services was launched.
It was then left to individual schools to inform the parents of all future students joining, either by letter or in the school prospectus.
Arrangements have also been in place since 2009 to ensure the schools taking part have a suitable room to allow procedures to be carried out.
But, in a letter to the outraged mum, the school’s chairman of governors revealed he may bring the matter to a full board meeting.
He also told her: “Whilst it is important that young people have good access to services such as these – as the law indicates – are we comfortable that this particular procedure is being carried out on the school premises?”
The mum told the Daily Echo: “I feel really angry about this. I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far.
“To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing is morally wrong and I think more parents should be aware that their children could be having this procedure.
“If she has a headache at school, the school calls to ask if they can give her a paracetamol or if she needs a tooth out, before surgery the dentist asks me to sign a consent form – yet my daughter can go to school and have this implanted into her arm, without consulting her GP or parents.
“I’m told a long list of checks were made before she had this implant but how many 13-year-olds are aware of their full medical history? I cannot understand how this is allowed to happen.
“My daughter was given no follow-up appointments to check if there had been any side effects, which in my view constitutes neglect because anything could have happened to her and we wouldn’t have known why.
“Teenagers have the right to protect themselves and she did the right thing by seeking advice but to not be checked after such a procedure is totally wrong.
“Since she had the implant her moods changed, she got depressed, cut all ties with her friends and stopped going out.
Even her teachers noticed the change and called me but at the time, I didn’t know what to put it down to.
“Luckily I now know but many other parents are unaware their daughter has one.
“I have spoken to a lot of parents at the school and they were horrified to find out this was happening.
“As parents we want to protect our children and I feel that has been taken away from me.”
The school head said confidentiality prevented discussion of individual cases but confirmed the service was still being used. It was stressed they were simply following Government guidelines.
Today a spokesman for the NHS Trust and NHS Southampton defended the service stressing it was provided by trained staff who undertake detailed medical assessments and follow-up appointments could be arranged if required.
The spokesman highlighted the scheme’s success in reducing pregnancies and added: “All young people under the age of 16 who visit sexual health services receive a full risk assessment, over and above national guidance and meeting all legal requirements.”
But the mum insists other parents should be aware that contraceptives may have been fitted without their knowledge.
She added: “My daughter is aware that some of her friends have had one fitted too and parents are looking at their daughters’ arms to see if they have received one.”
The mother has now taken the issue to her MP Alan Whitehead, who told the Daily Echo: “This contraceptive implant clearly requires a surgical procedure which ought to be undertaken in suitable and appropriate conditions and I am not sure whether the services that are being offered at the moment enable this it happen and that is what I am going to be looking into.”
Jeremy Moulton, Cabinet member for children’s services at Southampton City Council, said: “The council works in partnership with NHS Southampton to reduce the number of unwanted teenage pregnancies and ensure young people can access appropriate advice and support around sexual health. This can be a sensitive subject so it’s important that procedures are closely followed.”
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