Venereal diseases found in children as young as 12 in Scotland


Children as young as 12 in Scotland are being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections, according to official statistics from the Scottish Government.

Figures from 2010 to 2012 show that Scottish doctors are diagnosing STIs in 400 Scottish under-16s every year, according to the Health Protection Agency.

Chlamydia was the most common, with 1,670 cases, mostly in the greater Glasgow and Clyde area, as well as some children as young as 12 in Lothian and Lanarkshire.

There were also 49 gonorrhea cases and a smaller, unspecified number of syphilis cases. Both of these diseases were found in 13-year-olds in the greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

If left untreated, some STIs can cause infertility and leave women with pelvic pain and at risk of miscarriages.

STIs can also result in abnormally positioned pregnancies. Babies form somewhere other than the womb, requiring them to be removed in very early developmental stages. This leads to the baby's death and often infertility for the mother.

The figures come as research from the University of Aberdeen confirms that around 17,000 girls between the ages of 12 to 15 have been provided contraception, in many cases without parental consent.

The study looked at the patient records of 191 GP practices in Scotland between 2004 and 2009.

Dr Anusha Reddy, who headed the research, was quoted by the Christian Institute saying: "We know that there is a lot of underage pregnancy and there have been Government strategies put in place to tackle the issue.

"This study provides important information about that provision. It is obvious people are starting to use contraceptives from the age of 12."

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, was quoted by the Christian Institute as claiming many girls would "never have embarked" on a sexual relationship in their early teens, had it not been for the confidential provision of contraception.

"Providing contraception to young teenagers results in yet more underage sex, spiralling rates of sexually transmitted infections and young people carrying emotional baggage into adulthood," he said.

Antonia Tully, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said that such contraception and especially the morning after pill represented a "health risk" to young children.

"We don't know how it will affect their future fertility," she said. 

Ms Tully also suggested that allowing the rights of young people to include receiving contraception without parental consent was "completely undermining parents".

The Scottish Government's policies were "very damaging all round", she added.

Kieran Turner, public policy officer of the Evangelical Alliance Scotland raised the issue that "no one seems to be asking how we got here."

"We should be asking what this says about relationships, and about society at large."

He also noted that it seems to be that the law is contradicting itself on this point "you have one law, the age of consent... and then you have these situations where people are... essentially facilitating people breaking the law."

Conservative Health Spokesperson, MSP Jackson Carlaw was quoted by the Christian Institute as saying that the report shows that current sex education is "failing miserably".

Quoted in the Scottish Daily Record, Mr Carlaw complained of the "casual dismissal of a serious and increasing problem" that he believes characterises the Scottish Government's position of leaving sex education and prevention issues to local authorities.