In recent news, girls as young as 12 years old have been allowed to receive a contraceptive implant without consent from their parents. Many are outraged, but as with almost everything there is more than one way to look at this.
On one hand, we do not own our children, this is a difficult thing for many to begin to explore, but they are their own beings and are responsible for their own bodies. On the other hand, children of this age are still in the growth and development stages and might not actually be able to make fully informed and educated decision about something like this and the potential consequences of their actions, so at least having to take the time to discuss this with a parent is probably a good idea.
But since kids don’t actually develop in batches, does it serve us to determine a child’s level of independence strictly on age? How much of our ‘babying and intervening’ of our kids hinder their own development?
A Recent Debate On ‘This Morning’
One outraged mother, Rachel Halliwell, parent to 11-year-old daughter appeared on the ITV show along with Rebecca Jane, a mother of two and ex reality star. Rachel expressed her outrage and concern over parents being entirely left out of this decision making process and made an excellent point by stating,
“If my 11-year-old daughter wanted to get her hair coloured or her ears pierced that wouldn’t happen without my consent. Yet she equally could have gone along to a family planning clinic and had a device fitted and I would have known nothing about it.”
What Is The Real Issue Here?
If girls of this age are in fact sexually active, then is it not a good thing to use some form of contraceptive? Absolutely, but why are children this young engaging in this sort of activity and doing so behind their parent’s backs?
There are many ways to justify the procedure, one commenter said,
“Also, the implant isn’t just for sex, it helps regulate periods and other things.”
Another stated that, ‘The implant isn’t just to stop you from getting pregnant though – maybe the under 16 year old just has other reasons to need it like hormone control or to reduce heavy painful periods for example.”
Rachel believed that parents should be included in this conversation to which Phillip added,
“Your child goes to school and if they want to go on a school trip they have to get parental consent, but not parental consent to be given a contraceptive so at 12, 13 or 14 you can begin your active sex life?”
It is a little peculiar, that this was somehow even allowed to happen in the first place and that there were no laws in place to stop this sort of thing from happening. The debate on this topic is certainly warranted, where do you stand on this issue?
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What Exactly Does The Implant Do?
Figures from NHS digital show that 10,593 girls under the age of 15 were fitted with these devices between 2015 and 2017. This included a minimum of 39 girls aged 12 or under the skin of the arm. They last for three years and work by releasing a steady dose of the hormone progesterone, which prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg every month. The hormone also thickens the lining of the cervix which prevents sperm from entering.
These implants are about the size of a matchstick and are inserted under the skin of the arm.
How To Handle This Differently
Wouldn’t it be great if as parents we could encourage our children to be able to talk to us about these types of things and whatever desire they might have to utilize this method of contraceptive and then together as parent and child a decision can be made together? There are obviously many forms of contraception, but many also argue that the implants and birth control can help with painful cramps and a heavy flow in which case this implant may be effective. Then again modifications to diet and pushing for a healthy liver can also have a big impact on severity of symptoms.
But to just give children this device and essentially free range to start having sex is not very responsible because there are many other risks associated with becoming sexually active than just getting pregnant. Sexually transmitted infections for one and beginning a hormonal treatment of any kind at any age can potentially have some dangerous side effects that we should all be educated on.
What Does An Expert Have To Say?
Dr. Sara Kayat, who appeared on the show said that she herself would not carry out the procedure on any underage children unless there had been considerable conversation between parent, child and doctor about the overall need, use or want for the implant.
“When it comes to under 16-years-olds there is a grey area when it is 14 or 15-year-olds… There is often that maturity in some that isn’t there in others.”
“If it is 13 and under there does require a lot more conversation, I wouldn’t give the implant to a 12 or 13-year-old without having those conversations and certainly it becomes a safeguarding issue.”
“You have to get paediatricians involved to have that chat because it is not legal to be having sex at that age. So those ten minute [consultations] will get thrown out of the window but it is absolutely important.”
What are your thoughts on this matter? Share with us in the comments section of this article.
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