Pupils offered safe sex by text
Txtdomz is a new service that delivers condoms by post, packaged in plain envelopes. Pupils type in "txtdomz1" followed by their address and the condoms will be mailed immediately.
Jon Jarvis, founder of the service, says he was inspired by his own experience. "I remember walking into the chemist for condoms and hating it," he said. "There's the fear the assistant will hold them up and say, 'How much are these?'"
There are 90,000 teen pregnancies a year in Britain. Research conducted by Txtdomz revealed that 49 per cent of sexually active teenagers were not using condoms because they were too embarrassed to buy them. One in 10 teenagers believes only over-16s can legally buy contraceptives.
Mr Jarvis hopes to promote his service through sixth-forms and colleges.
"We thought, 'Crikey, there has to be a way to get condoms into teenagers'
hands,'" he said. "They love receiving things through the post, whether CDs or things ordered from the internet."
Each delivery includes six condoms: two ribbed, two flavoured and two regular. The cost, pound;3.50, is billed to the mobile-phone account.
The Family Planning Association has welcomed the service. A spokeswoman said: "Contraception can be a scary and difficult thing to get. Teenagers can find it hard getting to a place where they can obtain them. So this is a highly responsible step."
She does not believe pupils will misuse the service. "Young people have always got hold of condoms out of curiosity, or for a joke," she said. "But then they can get to know them in private."
Malcolm Tipler, personal, social and health education co-ordinator at Eastbury comprehensive, in east London, said he will mention the service to pupils, but added: "If a parcel turns up at home, parents will want to know what is in it. And if teenagers are embarrassed about going into a shop and buying condoms, they won't want to tell their parents."