Treatment to young people

  • the young person understands the health professional's advice;
  • the health professional cannot persuade the young person to inform his or her parents or allow the doctor to inform the parents that he or she is seeking contraceptive advice;
  • the young person is very likely to begin or continue having intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment;
  • unless he or she receives contraceptive advice or treatment, the young person's physical or mental health or both are likely to suffer; and
  • the young person's best interests require the health professional to give contraceptive advice, treatment or both without parental consent.

Department of Health (2004c)

For the purposes of subsection (2), a person acts for the protection of a child if he acts for the purpose of

  • a) protecting the child from sexually transmitted infection,
  • b) protecting the physical safety of the child,
  • c) preventing the child from becoming pregnant, or
  • d) promoting the child's emotional well-being by the giving of advice, and not for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or for the purpose of causing or encouraging the activity constituting the offence within subsection
  • 1)(b) or the child's participation in it (The Sexual Offences Act 2003).

So the inclusion of this specific clause does give the practitioner the confidence to encourage sexually active young people to engage with, and participate in, sexual health services to gain advice and maintain their health.

The Sexual Offences Act contains many areas of sex-related law that are valuable to professionals working within the sexual health fields. Clarification is given on many areas, from rape and assault through to cottaging, voyeurism and indecent exposure. The limitations of this chapter do not allow a full exploration of the Act; however, it is advisable for practitioners to obtain a copy and familiarise themselves with all of its many aspects.

Again the area of consent and its various applications provide a number of challenges to the sexual health practitioner, the most challenging being that of working with young people. Again it is important to use the chapter to stimulate questions and discussions; and when faced with an unclear situation regarding young people you should always seek guidance from others within your team. Ultimately it is essential to remember that the welfare of the child is always paramount.

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