Committee on Rights of the Child expresses concern on teenagers’ reproductive health in the UK

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3 June 2016

Adolescent health

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation a steady decrease in teenage pregnancies in the State party during the period of review. However, the Committee is concerned that:
    1. The rate of teenage pregnancies is still higher than European Union average and higher in more deprived areas;
    2. Relationships and sexuality education is not mandatory in all schools, its contents and quality varies depending on the school, and LGBT children do not have access to accurate information on their sexuality;
    3. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal in all cases except where continuance of the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, and is sanctioned with life imprisonment…
  1. With reference to its general comments No.4 (2003) on adolescent health and No. 15 (2013), the Committee recommends that the State party:
  2. Develop and adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents, with particular attention to reducing inequalities and with participation of adolescents;
  3. Ensure that meaningful sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum for all schools, including academies, special schools and youth detention centres, in all areas of the State party. Such education should provide age-appropriate information on: confidential sexual and reproductive health-care services; contraceptives; prevention of sexual abuse or exploitation, including sexual bullying; available support in cases of such abuse and exploitation; and sexuality, including that of LGBTchildren;
  4. Decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland in all circumstances and review its legislation with a view to ensuring girls’ access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services. The views of the child should always be heard and respected in abortion decisions.

Committee on the Rights of the Child: Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Advance unedited version, 3 June 2016