Swindon is one of the best performing authorities in the South West for reducing teenage pregnancies and in the top 10% nationally, according to the latest statistics.
The borough has seen no yearly increase in the number of teenage pregnancies over the last four years. A total of 126 girls under the age of 18 become pregnant in 2009, compared to 158 in 2006.
Since 1998 Swindon has seen a 32.1% decrease in the number of teenage pregnancies, a reduction second only to Gloucestershire in the South West, and considerably more rapid than the national average (18.1%) during the same period.
The reduction has been attributed to increased investment in sex and relationships education across schools, colleges and youth centres. There has also been increased availability of sexual health services in a range of places and increased support for professionals and parents in having what are often seen as ‘tricky’ conversations.
There is also a strong link between reduced teenage pregnancy rates and increased levels of achievement, and Swindon’s young people have seen their attainment, particularly around GSCE results, improve over the last few years.
Julie Northcott, Swindon Borough Council’s Strategic Planning and Commissioning Manager for Teenage Pregnancy and Sexual Health, said: “Although we would have liked to see the rate come down further this year we are delighted that we do have a sustained reduction.
“Over the last few years we have seen a noticeable reduction in young women giving birth at a young age and are clear in our focus to provide targeted support to those most vulnerable to early sexual activity. We need to support young women and men to make safer choices in their sexual activity so that unplanned and unwanted pregnancies do not occur.”
Cllr David Renard, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is clear that young people don’t see becoming a parent at a young age as an attractive option and both parents, professionals and the media have a strong role in supporting them to make safer choices.”
Dr Karthik Paranthaman, Acting Director of Public Health, said: “Over the past few years, we have made a lot of progress in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies among young people in Swindon.
“However, there is still room to reduce rates further. We will continue to work hard with all our partner agencies in providing better information to young people on safer sexual choices and knowing where and how to access confidential sexual health advice.”