Figures recently released by the Office of National Statistics show Merton’s teenage pregnancy rate is at its lowest since they were first recorded in 1998. Merton now has the fastest declining rate in outer London and is below the national average for the capital and England.
The borough’s conception rate for those aged under 18 has dropped 61.4% since 1998 and now stands at 19.7 births out of every 1000 from 51, 15 years ago. Last year, there were 60 teenage pregnancies compared to 135 in 1998.
Merton’s Teenage Pregnancy and Substance Misuse Partnership board set up 17 years ago to tackle the rise in teenage mothers, works closely with young people to educate them about sex and relationships. This has seen the council work in partnership with health and youth services and the voluntary sector to set up contraceptive and sexual health services that are friendly and non-judgemental for teens in the borough. The board has also worked with schools and youth clubs to ensure they are equipped to support young people to make positive life choices.
Merton’s acting cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Judy Saunders, said: “This is a great achievement for all services in the borough who work in partnership to educate and advise our young people. At Merton, we are dedicated and committed to teenage pregnancy prevention and our support work is paying off. Reducing the teenage pregnancy rate means more young women are more likely to complete their education and have better prospects.
“We still have work to do. The board will be working on youth outreach programmes to educate young people about drugs and alcohol abuse as well as sex and relationships.”
Notes to editor
Merton’s teenage pregnancy rate is 19.7%. The London average is 21.5% and the England average is 22.8%
Merton’s Teenage Pregnancy and Substance Misuse Partnership board is made up of health and youth services and the voluntary sector.