A high number of Roma girls in a Sheffield neighbourhood are pregnant and need help returning to school after giving birth, says a report.
Sheffield Council says it is working with schools and other agencies to help Roma girls in Fir Vale and Burngreave reintegrate back into school after they have given birth.
The council has declined to comment on its report so there are no specific figures on the number of pregnant girls.
The report says: “Given a high number of Roma girls are pregnant, the Multi-Agency Support Team has identified a link worker who is in the process of working with schools to prepare girls for reintegration into school post-birth and support her transition back into mainstream education to ensure she receives her educational entitlement.
“Early Years have been running targeted groups to Roma families. Due to low levels of engagement, links have been made with GP surgeries to offer drop-ins on days when there is a higher level of attendance of Roma families to signpost the families to the local children’s centre and provide vitamin D tablets.
“The parenting team continues to offer discussion groups specifically targeted to the Roma population within school settings. Given the success of these, they will be widened out to more schools. Work is also under way to broadening out the discussion groups to other new arrival groups.”
Coun Mick Rooney has questioned how many of the girls are under the age of 16, the legal age of consent for sex.
Coun Rooney, chairman of the children and young people’s scrutiny board, told the meeting: “The thing which concerns me is what appears to be a reference to underage girls having children. What age are we talking about? I’m worried some of these girls are not old enough and this is not acceptable culturally in this country.”
Council officer Andrew Jones replied: “At least one girl is underage and that’s why we need to check the statistics.”
There are plans to further promote the Safer Sleep message – advice on preventing cot death – to the Roma community.
And there is a review of young people’s sexual health outreach services to understand and identify the needs of the Roma community.
There will be further engagement with GPs in areas with high Roma populations and a task group will look at the best way to address positive relationships and sexual health issues with Roma young people.
There will be support for schools to address risk taking behaviour and “culturally appropriate health and wellbeing information” developed in consultation with members of the community.
The full report can be read here: http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s34282/Support%20for%20Roma%20Children.pdf