Girls from the age of 13 could be given contraceptive implants at school without parental consent as part of a government initiative to drive down teenage pregnancies. Health officials say that teenage pregnancies after implementing the procedure have dropped by 22 percent.
However, the new initiative has caused a backlash from parents who were stunned to find that their daughters could be fitted with the 4cm device, which sits just under the skin, reports the Telegraph.
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, would rather see health officials encourage abstinence amongst children.
"Schemes like these inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex.
"They can now tell their girlfriends: âYou can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don't have to worry about getting pregnant.' They'll tell them they don't have to face the embarrassment of going to see their doctor, and it's all confidential so their mum doesn't need to know a thing.
"Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs. Health authorities should be looking for ways of discouraging young people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place.
"The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of promiscuity and the sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt."
While no data has been released about how many young girls have taken part in the initiative, parents have had to physically inspect their child's arm for any sign of the implant.
One mother of a girl who had come home with the implant labeled the scheme "morally wrong".
While the students are not required to tell their parents, neither are they asked to consult their doctor. All they need is to fill out a questionnaire about their medical history and then receive the contraceptive after a consultation.
The mother, who wanted to keep anonymous, said:
"I feel really angry about this. I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far.
"To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing is morally wrong. I'm told a long list of checks were made before she had this implant but how many 13-year-olds are aware of their full medical history?"
"This contraceptive implant clearly requires a surgical procedure which ought to be undertaken in suitable and appropriate conditions.
"I am not sure whether the services that are being offered at the moment enable this it happen and that is what I am going to be looking into."
However, health officials have defended the scheme, citing that teenage pregnancies have dropped by 22 per cent since the scheme was implemented.
They also noted that letters were sent to all parents at participating schools in 2009 when the service was launched. From then, it was up to individual schools to inform parents of all students who would choose to be involved.
A spokeswoman for Solent NHS Trust and NHS Southampton said:
"We are committed to ensuring local young people are able to access clinically appropriate sexual health support. This helps them to avoid unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.
"The service is provided by trained staff and includes offering information, advice and support to students. It also includes chlamydia screening, condom distribution, pregnancy testing, providing a range of contraception methods and referral to other services.
"Since the service was introduced there has been a reduction in the number of under 16-year-olds who have become pregnant. The service is provided by Solent NHS Trust which undertakes detailed medical assessments for all patients attending any sexual health clinic.
"This is over and above national guidance and meeting all legal requirements."