If children start sex education young, they're more likely to avoid having risky sex when they’re older. That’s one of the main findings of the study The Face of Global Sex 2010, sponsored by condom firm Durex. The study talked to 15,000 teenagers in 15 European countries.
The report says some families and schools worry that teaching children and young people about sex will encourage them to have sex sooner and with more different partners. But in fact, the evidence shows it’s just the other way round.
You’re also more likely to avoid risky sexual behaviour if you learn about sex from parents and teachers than if you just pick up information from friends. "They won't know unless we tell them," the report concludes about sex education.
Girls know best
When it comes to being clued up on safe sex, the girls came out on top. They scored higher than the boys on their “knowledge, attitudes and practice”. The report says extra sex education programmes are needed for young males to help them take a more sensible attitude to sexual health matters, like using condoms.
Nearly all the young people thought it was a smart idea to use a condom with a new partner. But there were still plenty who couldn’t tell the myths from the facts. On average, around a quarter of European teens thought you could get sexually transmitted diseases from using a public toilet.
Around one in five thought you didn’t need to use a condom if you know your partner. And around one in ten thought a girl couldn’t get pregnant the first time she has sex.
There were big differences in safe sex knowledge in different countries. Western European countries like Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France scored highest in terms of sex education– the countries where sex education starts earliest.
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