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Inadequate sex education continues

Teenagers are lacking in self-confidence and vital information on sex and sexual health says a new survey.

Teenagers are lacking in self-confidence and vital information on sex and sexual health says a new survey.

Almost a quarter of 14-year-old girls claim to have had sex and say they have had an average of three partners. Among those who said they had had sex, 65 per cent admitted to unprotected sex and 45 per cent said they had had a one-night stand.

Alcohol played a part, with 60 per cent of sexually active 14-year-olds saying they had had sexual relations while drunk, half saying they regretted it later and 29 per cent saying they "did not even like their sexual partner".

Bliss magazine, aimed at teenagers, questioned 2,000 of its readers whose average age was 14.

Sixteen per cent of those aged 13 or under, 22 per cent of 14-year-olds and 48 per cent of those aged 15 or over said they had had sex.

Of all the respondents, 75 per cent said they felt there was too much pressure on young people to have sex; 57 per cent said their parents never talked to them about sex; and 70 per cent said they needed more information on sexual intercourse and sexual health.

Jan Barlow, the chief executive of Brook, a sexual health charity for young people, said: "This survey confirms a desperate need among young people for better information about sex and relationships."

Georgina Whitfield, of the Family Planning Association, said: "Young people need accurate and reliable information so that they can make informed choices about when they are ready to have sex and to resist peer pressure."

Both organisations said they wanted sex education to become part of the national curriculum.

Lisa Smosarski, the editor of Bliss, said: "These findings are extremely worrying. Half of those who are sexually active say they regret their sexual experiences, which could scar them for life.

"Alcohol is a huge problem, causing teenage girls to behave in a way they would not normally.

"Teenage girls need to be told that it is OK to say no and they want to know how to say no with confidence.

"So many girls struggle to cope with the emotional fall-out from having sex too young and wish they had waited."

Norman Wells, the director of the Family Education Trust, blamed successive governments for failing to promote family values.

"The teenage pregnancy strategy is based on the false premise that young people will inevitably be sexually active irrespective of anything their parents and teachers say to them," he said.

"Under-age sex is being facilitated by the easy availability of contraception, by confidentiality policies which keep parents in the dark and by the widespread disregard of the law on the age of consent."

2nd September 2008

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