Free condoms and chlamydia testing kits have been offered to children as young as 13 by the Teesside Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
The kits and contraceptives are being distributed by NHS Middlesbrough's Life Store in the run up to Valentine's Day, which occurs during National Contraceptive Awareness Week this year.
The C:Card scheme is being promoted by "health trainers" at the shop in The Mall, Middlesbrough, which allows young people across the region to access free condoms and sexual health advice. But local religious leaders and parents have warned that giving away condoms to those as young as 13 could serve to "promote" sex.
Teenage pregnancy strategy co-ordinator Gillian McGready said: "Although the legal age limit is 16, if the sexual activity is judged to be consensual, young people also have the right to free and confidential advice regarding their sexual health and provision of contraception.
"Young people aged 13 to 16 who access the C:Card Scheme are assessed by staff trained in relation to current legislation. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that young people under the age of 13 cannot consent to any form of sexual activity."
Four out of five (80%) teenagers in Middlesbrough are not sexually active, according to NHS Tees, which also offers free condoms across Stock, Redcar, Cleveland and Hartlepool.
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