BARRIE GRUNEWALD: Heeding the lessons of Iraq

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Like most people it has been dreadful to watch the scenes from Syria unfold before us as the news coverage dominated our screens.

The vote which took place last week in Parliament has meant at this moment in time British Forces wont be involved in military action against the Syrian Government.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband was not prepared to support an ill-judged and rushed decision to use military force: before the weapons inspectors had reported, before the UN Security Council had debated and voted on the basis of the evidence presented, and before the wider impact of military action on the region had been properly weighed up.

These are the lessons of Iraq. We have to learn them. The only way to stop the violence is to stop the war. Even those who were advocating military strikes in Syria were not claiming that this was going to end the fighting or stop the conflict.

The focus now must be on the upcoming G20 where a renewed diplomatic, political and humanitarian effort must be made to ease the suffering and help end the conflict in Syria and to stop another war starting.

g I’m sure everyone will be delighted with the news that, once again, teenage pregnancies in St. Helens have shown a decrease.

The number of conceptions was 34 compared to 50 in 2011 and 53 in 2010.

The number of under 18 conceptions in St Helens is now at an all time low since records began in 1998 but we still need all partners, parents and carers to support young people to make healthy and informed choices regarding their sexual health and well-being to continue to reduce the number of conceptions in the borough, as they remain higher compared to other parts of the UK.

These figures show that young people in St Helens are taking a responsible approach to relationships which is supported by good access to community sexual health services and contraception available in community setting.

There are a range of factors that have contributed to the downward trend and this continues to be supported by the strong partnership approach that has been adopted to address this multi-facetted and complex issue.

Community sexual health services are provided in St. Helens through the TAZ (Teen Advice Zone). The TAZ Outreach team also offers a menu of interventions at every secondary school in the borough, such as drop-ins, targeted group work, one to one support and the delivery of sex and relationships education.

Youth centres have also been added to the mix offering the C-Card service, which was launched in 2010, this makes it easier for 13 – 19 year olds to access relationship and sexual health advice and free condoms.