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HomeNewsLaura Perrins: At-risk teenage girls need better protection than the Pill

Laura Perrins: At-risk teenage girls need better protection than the Pill


A preoccupation with reducing teenage pregnancy rates has encouraged a culture in which underage sexual activity goes unchallenged and many young people are being placed at risk of sexual exploitation.

The serious case review of six young women who were subject to severe and prolonged child sexual exploitation in Rochdale during their teenage years found that agencies such as Children’s Social Care, health services and the police failed to protect them because they ‘simply assumed that the young people were making a “lifestyle choice.”’

The report suggests that professionals in Rochdale had become complacent about underage sexual activity and had been so focused on a damage limitation exercise aimed at reducing teenage conception and sexually transmitted infection rates that they had failed to act in the best interests of vulnerable young people. The report states, ‘the drive to reduce teenage pregnancy, whilst commendable in itself, is believed to have contributed to a culture whereby professionals may have become inured to early sexual activity in young teenagers.’

Even when two of the teenagers requested an abortion there is no evidence that professionals enquired further into the nature of the sexual relationships they were engaged in. One of the girls, aged 14, asked the school nurse for a pregnancy test. When the test proved positive, she was referred to the crisis intervention team (CIT), an NHS body offering confidential specialist sexual health advice for young people, including those aged under 16.

The report states that the girls “told CIT that she had had sex two weeks previously with a 21 year old man, that she had not seen him since and that she did not want her mother to know. The option of termination was discussed with her, but there is no evidence that the fact that this 14 year old girl had had sex with a man considerably older than her was pursued any further.”

A separate report documented the failure of child protection agencies in Rochdale to protect a seventh child even though they were aware that she had had a number of sexual partners at the age of 13 and presented to her GP with symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.

She informed staff at the sexual health clinic (CIT) that she had had “unprotected oral and anal sex, sometimes against her wishes and that the men would hit her if she refused.” She also disclosed to CIT and a Connexions worker “that a man had poured petrol on her and threatened to set her alight because she refused to perform oral sex.”

Despite this no report was made to the police or Children’s Social Care.

The report states “there is … no evidence that GPs at any point considered that (the girl’s) presenting symptoms might be indicators of sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.” It goes on “in attempting to understand why this was the case, the (investigators) recognises that GPs … had little knowledge about indicators of child sexual exploitation at this time.” But, one asks, how much knowledge do they need?

They know she is underage, they know she is sexually active and therefore that whoever has had sexual intercourse with this girl is guilty of rape.

Are we to believe that until GPs and sexual health workers are given specific training by another agency equipped with a bag stuffed full with acronyms and jargon such as ‘child sexual exploitation’ (CSE) that they cannot be expected to pick up the phone and call someone when a 13 year old girl tells them they have been anally raped? Is it now up for debate that a girl could consent to oral sex when she has had petrol poured all over her and threatened with being set alight?

The report continues “A common feature … in responding” to this 13 year old was only responding to  “her clinical need without a more holistic approach being taken with regard to her wider welfare needs.” In other words, they treated the sexually transmitted infection of this under age girl, offered her contraception and just sent her on her way.

Is this what our GPs and ‘sexual health worker’ have been reduced to, in the wonderful, liberal, enlightened era of ‘non-judgment’? Practically facilitating and assisting the gross abuse of young girls who were first abandoned by their parents and then by the State? Is this what the NHS was set up to do? Collude in the abuse of minors?

In Rochdale and elsewhere, giving young people free access to ‘sexual health services’ on the assumption that ‘they are going to have sex anyway, so we must do what we can to reduce the risk’ has proved to be anything but compassionate. If anything it just empowered the abuser and prolonged the torment these girls endured.


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