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Tue, Nov 27, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Teenagers getting more sexually active

CULTURAL VALUES According to a recent survey, students between 14 and 19 years of age are more willing than ever to have sexual intercourse

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

Health officials yesterday released the results of a survey which showed that Taiwan's parents rarely teach their children about sex, while young students have become more sexually active and need more information to avoid sexual risk-taking.

"The research proved that young people of both sexes have become significantly more open to sexual activity," said Lin Hui-sheng (林惠生), director of the Center for Population and Health Survey Research under the health department's Bureau of Health Promotion.

According to the report, about 25 percent of male and 10 percent of female students would engage in sexual intercourse if they were "fond of," though not in love with, their partners. In 1995 only 18 percent of male and 5 percent of females said they would do so.

The research focuses on students as 90 percent of the age group -- from 14 to 19 years old -- are in school.

The proportion of young male students who have had sexual intercourse rose from 10.4 percent to13.9 percent in the five years from 1995, while that of young females increased from 6.7 percent to 10.4 percent.

First-time sex also occurred earlier than before. Last year, most of the surveyed males who reported to have had intercourse had done so before the age of 16. Most of the females had done so before the age of 17.

Lin argued that young people's increasing openness toward sex was linked to easy access to explicit material and the loosening family ties.

Last year, 90 percent of male respondents and 70 percent of the female respondents said they had watched or read pornography.

About 80 percent of male students and 30 percent of female students had visited sexually-explicit Web sites. Lin complained, however, that "sex education by parents is almost zero."

Both in 1995 and last year, over 70 percent of the students said their parents never discussed sex with them, though girls were more likely to be taught to "protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy."

The survey showed that sex education in schools had significantly improved but that advice on abortion and contraception should be strengthened. "These subjects are still taboo. Many teachers don't teach them for fear of encouraging casual sex," Lin said.

The survey last year found that 27 percent of male and 34 percent of female students never used contraception and over half of the women and 70 percent of the men had not used contraception during first-time sex.

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