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Teenage pregnancies still linked to deprivation – Kirsty Williams AM

November 29, 2011 4:04 PM

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, has expressed her concern over figures that confirm there is a continuing link between deprivation and teenage pregnancy rates.

Statistics show that within Wales conception rates for girls aged under 18 varied considerably from 67.8 per thousand girls aged 15-17 in Merthyr Tydfil to 28.2 in Monmouthshire (2007-2009 average).

Statistics on teenage conceptions are widely used as a general indicator of health and inequality as well as in the context of sexual health. In the statistics, "conceptions" are estimates derived by combining information on births and legal abortions.

Kirsty Williams AM commented:

"Many young mothers have a positive experience of pregnancy, but the reality is that many teenage pregnancies are unplanned. There is no hiding from the fact that teenage pregnancies are not evenly distributed across society in Wales. Statistics show that girls in areas of high deprivation are more likely to become pregnant.

"Too often young people living in poorer areas suffer from low self-esteem and believe they have a lack of life opportunities for the future. These young girls need to be benefiting from an education system that equips them in later life. Estyn's most recent report on the provision of sex and relationships education (SRE) showed there are wide variations in the quality and impact of teaching across Wales and only a minority of schools teach it to a high standard. This problem must be addressed at a matter of urgency.

"I very much welcome that the number of under 18 year old pregnancies has decreased when compared to the previous year, but the rates are still too high. Good quality sexual and relationship education in schools is incredibly important. Ministers need to ensure that all of our young people are getting the information they need. It is clear that in some areas the teenage pregnancy strategy is failing to get through to many young people."