Marlyn Glen MSP


Teenage pregnancy levels in Dundee

6 July 2010

Marlyn Glenís responses to media questions on the level of teenage pregnancy in Dundee and what can be done to reduce it.

Q Why does you think this issue persists in Dundee?

Marlyn Glenís answer :

The relatively high level of unintended under-16 teenage pregnancies in the UK compared with elsewhere in Europe is a nationwide-issue.

More needs to be done to achieve a long-term consistent reduction in that trend, and even more so in Dundee because of its unwelcome standing in these pregnancy rates.


Q You regularly hear people on the street say that young girls can get themselves a council flat and / or benefits payments if they have a baby.

Is it really that simple? Does that not show a chronic lack of ambition / hope among our young people?

Marlyn Glenís answer :

For many teenage women having a child is a planned, life-fulfilling ambition.

However, claims that young girls become pregnant simply to get a council flat and benefits is at odds with research. This suggest that vulnerable teenage mothers

are three times more likely to experience post-natal depression and poor mental health for up to three years after the baby is born.

For many of them bringing up a child will prove difficult, to the detriment of the health of both mother and child with both likely to be living in long-term poverty.

A future such as this is no oneís ambition.

Setting more opportunities for ambition follow from success in reducing the risk of teenage pregnancy

This will come though effective intervention in reversing the effect of its associated factors conditions and so encouraging greater participation in school, higher levels of educational achievement, and participation in over-16 education.


Q As a former teacher, do you think sex education is working?

Are there fundamental problems with how we go about introducing sex as a subject to our young people and, if so, what would you like to see done to address the issue. 

Marlyn Glenís answer :

To a very great extent the fundamental approach of sex education works for the vast majority of teenagers.

It provides young people with easily-accessible, reliable information, advice and support about contraception and sexually transmitted infection.

It tackles myths about sex.

It addresses related issues such as the pressures on young people to engage in early sexual activity, the imperative of mutual consent, the role of alcohol and the risk of it in initiating unprotected sex.

However, all of these messages still face formidable opposition from peer group pressure and the misinformation about early sex and relationships that can circulate amongst teenagers.

I think more emphasis might be profitably placed on issues for boys and young men about the sexual representation of women in society, the media in general, and TV and film in particular, pornography and about violence against teenage girls.


Q Does the NHS play a significant enough role in driving down teen pregnancy rates in this area?

Marlyn Glenís answer :

Yes, the national strategy, set out in 2005 by the Scottish Executiveís " Respect and Responsibility" has directed large amounts of resources into sexual health.

NHS Tayside sought public involvement in the development of its Sexual Health Strategy.


Q Could they be doing more to impact on this area and remove a scar on the city's reputation?

Marlyn Glenís answer :

Without sounding critical, how often do all of the organisations involved, and not just the NHS, ask themselves :

How well-focused are our interventions targeted on vulnerable groups?

Are we emphasising sufficiently to boys that our message applies equally to them as to girls?

How successful are we in recruiting parents to help provide advice and support?


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