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   Home  > Books

Sex under Sixteen?

By Clifford Hill

Review

This report covers a detailed and comprehensive study of the attitudes, of children in the 13-15 years age group, on sexual relationshipscarried out by the Family Education Trust.

Only a small proportion (17%) of the 2000 taking part in the survey turned out to be sexually active, and 89% saw their lives in terms of getting married. Figures for sexual activity have been quoted as being as high as 50% by some parties, but these figures are not confirmed in this survey. However the results did show that children from broken homes were twice as likely to be sexually active as those living with both parents. The influence of peer group was also very marked. Some 43% of those whose friends were sexually active were sexually active themselves compared to only 4% whose friends were not sexually active.

It also showeed that about two thirds of those questioned about their first sexual encounter had not made a conscious decision about it. These and other results in the report suggest that young girls do not get pregnant because they are unaware of the need or availability of contraception, but because they are drifting or being pushed into relationships they are not ready to handle.

There is widespread concern that Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. This research suggests that family background and peer pressure are key issues and that the majority of young people still aspire to marriage. It also raises challenging questions for policy makers, in particular to listen to children and understand their real needs.

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