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Child Welfare Advocates Must Increase Protection for Underage Mums

by Savitha C Muppala on December 14, 2011 at 8:49 PM
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 Child Welfare Advocates Must Increase Protection for Underage Mums

There has been an increase in the number of Victorian girls under the age of 15 who have become mothers in the past two years which means child welfare and family planning advocates must step-up protection of these vulnerable people.

Although Births Deaths and Marriages refused to release the exact birth ages of Victorian women, the appalling numbers were obtained under Freedom of Information from the Department of Justice after six months of bureaucratic wrangling and legal consultation.

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The documents for 2009 and 2010 reveal that 50 girls aged 15 gave birth in Victoria, 260 aged 16, and 567 aged 17. And last financial year, 10 pregnancy terminations were carried out on 13-year-olds, while 52 14-year-olds had the procedure, including 13 from 20 weeks' gestation.

The document from the Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset also shows that pregnancy terminations, including incomplete miscarriages and induction of labour following foetal death, were performed on 111 15-year-olds and 255 16-year-olds in 2010-11.
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The highest abortion rate in the past two financial years was for women aged between 20 and 24.

At least one case of pregnancy involved an 11-year-old giving birth via Caesarean after more than three years of sexual abuse by a family friend.

Michael Moore, spokesman for Community Services and Women's Affairs Minister Mary Wooldridge, said Department of Human Services clients living in residential care received information and education about a wide range of issues, include sexual health.

"Young teenagers who give birth are provided with appropriate and ongoing support and supervision to ensure the well-being of mother and baby," the Daily Express quoted Michael Moore, spokesman for Community Services and Women's Affairs Minister Mary Wooldridge as saying.

Australian Medical Association Victoria president Harry Hemley said it had written to both the health and education ministers this year calling for a state-wide sexual education curriculum to be established.

"We looked into it and the research showed that one in six Australians aged between 16 and 19 years had been pregnant at some stage," Hemley said.

"Research shows that if you have a comprehensive sexual education curriculum then coercion rates, pregnancy and chlamydia go down. We have to protect our kids however we can," he added.

Source: ANI
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