Tis the season for teenage pregnancy

'Tis the season for teenage pregnancy 

By Charlotte Fantelli

I suppose it would not come as a great surprise to most of us if were to hear that the festive season, with it's parties, drinking, frolicking and fun, is also the time of year that sees teenagers most at risk of pregnancy and STI's.

Our feature looking at abortion reveals the fact that the new year through to March is the busiest time for abortion clinics in the UK, with the post Christmas realisation that unprotected sex does not often come with a simple happy ending!

But what if there were better awareness amongst teens? Better resources and a service that would give teenagers the opportunity to make informed choices before the moment of passion came upon them?

Many teenagers are fearful of asking questions, sex education is very inadequate and in this 'do now, think later' society we live in, without information our teenagers face a very adult world much ill-informed. 

However, GoGetInfo, a service we reported the launch of earlier this year, is giving teenagers instant access 24/7 to confidential help and advice via their mobile phones.

Teens mobile phones are a big part of their life, it is a medium for information delivery that they understand and like. GoGetInfo, gives them instant access to confidential help and advice on topics such how to use a condom and where to get emergency contraception. They even have a service that answer's the age old teenage dilemma 'am I normal?'

Louise Orpin from GoGetInfo tells Mental Healthy "from our focus groups when developing the service, young people told us they often worried about being "normal" but were too embarrassed to discuss their concerns. We therefore aren't surprised that this has been the most popular topic GoGetInfo offers. Everyone develops differently, and at some point in out lives, we all worry about the way our bodies look and how we feel. The information provided covers some of the common worries teenagers may have about spots, whether they are too fat or too thin, too tall or too short. Some girls may worry about their breast size and shape, while some boys worry about their penis size and shape."

The service also gives some interesting insight into what teens are looking for, GoGetInfo’s advanced reporting system allows for detailed data analysis and it found that in one week alone:

  • 100% of teenagers accessing "Am I pregnant" were 15 and under
  • 70% accessing “How to use a Condom" were also 15 and under
  • Of those accessing "How to use a Condom" 46% were Male and 54% female.
  • 50% of those accessing “How to use a Condom" did so in the evening and at weekends.

The service, available on all data enabled phones, not just smart phones, is quick, easy and affordable with a wealth of information on each subject available for just 50p (plus standard data charges), teenagers simply text the area they are concerned about to 60110. For example, by texting 'condom', STI, 'normal’ or ‘pregnant’, seconds later they will receive a link which will take them to a package of practical advice on the subject presented as text, video and images. Crucially, it is delivered in an age-appropriate format and has been produced in consultation with leading health experts (such as FPA and Brook), youth charities (including YouthNet) and the Department of Health.

Sarah Newton, Teenologist and Author of Teen Conversation Cards comments "I have to say that when I saw these statistics, I did find it quite shocking, I hadn't really thought of Christmas in that context. I think that this service is great and very accessible for young people. We have to recognise that young people have questions and concerns that they may be too frightened to ask adults, so a service like this means they can get trusted information exactly when they need it. I will certainly be letting my own daughter know that this service exists."

It is sad that we live in a society that does not simply pass on lessons to our children, and in which teenagers feel divided from their parents and adults around them, however in just such a world there is crucial need for services like this to exist. I know if I had a clue what I was doing to my body and mind as a teenager, I may very well have thought twice about my actions.

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