Handing out the wrong message!

A GROUP which champions parents' rights has criticised a new clinic for handing out free glow-in-the-dark condoms to 15 year olds saying it is encouraging teenage promiscuity.

The Parent Organisation spoke out against the initiative by the new 45,000 drop-in clinic for 15-18 year-olds based at Shirebrook Health Centre.

Founder Andy Hibberd, of Wingerworth, said: "There is a very fine balance between educating and encouraging in this sensitive area, and handing out glow-in-the-dark condoms is definitely closer to encouragement than education.

"We don't know of an easy answer, but to encourage teenage promiscuity by adding a 'comedy' element to what for many of us was little more than fumbling in the dark, seems wrong to us as parents.

"What causes us the greatest concern is not that the youngsters can get help, but that the Government feels it is appropriate for parents to be kept out of the loop."

The clinic, which offers free contraception and chlamydia-testing without an appointment, has been set up by Derbyshire Community Health Services in a bid to cut teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.

Shirebrook's teenage pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the national average while the number of people with chlamydia has shot up to more than one in ten nationwide.

Mr Hibberd said Government sex education policy, which includes teaching ten-year-olds how to use condoms, was not working and the background of girls who get pregnant as teenagers needed to be born in mind.

Paula Newbert, lead professional in Sexual Health at Derbyshire Community Health Services, said: "Primary Care Trusts across the country have been handing out condoms for many years as part of responsible sexual health promotion.

"Some young people do choose to have sex and they need to be prepared so they can avoid unwanted pregnancies and stop the spread of sexually-transmitted infections.

"We know some parents might find sex a difficult subject to discuss with their child but young people need to know the facts and have a choice to pick up free contraceptives if they need them."