Sexual Activity and Teens

Many teens in the dark on how sexual diseases spread

A THIRD of sexually active teenagers have their first experience before the age of 14 but many are unaware how infectious diseases spread, new figures have shown.

The Marie Stopes International survey of 1000 13- to 18-year-olds and their parents revealed that 31% of teenagers were sexually active but almost a third did not know they could catch sexually transmitted infections from oral sex.

Almost half were unaware they could be infected by chlamydia without showing symptoms.

Of the 52,000 cases of chlamydia recorded last year a quarter were among those under the age of 19. And more than half those surveyed were unaware that using a condom would not protect them from contracting herpes.

While 22 per cent of parents surveyed thought their children were sexually active, 31% of teens said they were.

Twenty per cent of adults had never talked to their teens about sexual health. Thirteen per cent of parents would have no idea if their children were sexually active. The research showed that on average those teenagers who had sex education talks with their parents became sexually active later (at 15.3 years) than those who had not discussed the issue (14.7 years).

Experts say the findings underline the need for mandatory sex education in all Australian schools.

The survey classified “sexually active” as oral sex, intercourse or touching of genitals.