Joint action plan aims to cut teenage pregnancies in Cornwall
New plans have been unveiled to help hundreds of teenage girls who become pregnant in Cornwall every year.
According to figures released by the NHS, around 320 girls under the age of 18 get pregnant every year with around half ending in an abortion.
This week Cornwall Council chiefs and the NHS published their joint action plan with the twin aims of reducing teenage pregnancy and supporting young parents.
The plan falls into four main areas.
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Firstly, giving young people the knowledge and skills needed to experience positive relationships and good sexual health.
Better access to and use of effective contraception is second on the list, followed by intervening early with girls deemed to be most at risk.
Fourthly the plan aims to help and support teenage parents.
Lex Gainsbury, Cornwall Council's teenage pregnancy coordinator, said working to reduce unplanned teenage conceptions was "fundamental."
She said: "While for some an unplanned pregnancy can be a positive turning point in their lives, research tells us that outcomes for parent and child are affected by early parenthood.
"Young people who conceive early have often faced other experiences in their lives which can increase their vulnerability.
"These and all young people need to be supported to raise aspirations and make positive choices now and for their future."
While acknowledging there was a problem with teenage pregnancies in the county, Ms Gainsbury pointed out the rate was below the national average.
She said: "There appears to be a widely held belief Cornwall has a worse problem with teenage pregnancies than other parts of the country.
"But figures from the National Office of Statistics show for under-18s the conception rate per 1,000 in Cornwall is 28.6.
"In England the figure is 29.7 making Cornwall below average."
Sue Coleman, the council's head of supporting families, said becoming a teenage parent was increasingly likely if youngsters lived in a poor or disadvantaged family.
She added: "What's more, once you are a parent in your teens, those disadvantages are further compounded. During these challenging financial times it is more important than ever that services work together to promote high aspirations for our young people in terms of the relationships they enter into, the education they receive and the future they aspire to."