Coalition presses for young people's right to sexual privacy

Charities have formed an informal coalition to challenge Government proposals that they believe compromise the confidentiality of young people seeking sexual health advice.

Under the proposals, which were made in the consultation document Working Together to Safeguard Children, it would be mandatory for all health professionals, including doctors and social workers, to share information with the police on any under-18s who they believed to be in sexual relationships.

The consultation is the result of incidents such as the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000. It will examine how agencies and professionals should work together to safeguard the welfare of children.

Action on Rights for Children (Arch) has responded by co-ordinating a joint statement signed by 20 bodies from both the voluntary and public sectors. The signatories include Brook, fpa, Liberty and the National Youth Agency.

Terri Dowty, director of the coalition, said: "The bottom line is that if this proposal comes to fruition, young people will stop accessing sexual health services. With our current STI and pregnancy rates, how irresponsible can you get?"

One of the signatories, the sexual health charity Brook, launched its own response to the consultation last week.

Wise Up! is supported by fpa and the UK Youth Parliament. It urges health workers to follow current government best practice guidance, which stresses the need for confidentiality when dealing with young people.

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