September 11, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 8  

Front Page >> News > Dumb kids getting herpes, the clap


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Dumb kids getting herpes, the clap

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

There is no doubt there is now more information about safe sex to pass on to adolescents than there was in 1989, but a new study suggests Canadian teens may not care.

According to the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study, conducted in 2002, one-third of girls and one-half of boys among the over 11,000 students surveyed in grades 7, 9 and 11 agreed it was "all right to have casual sex."

The study also revealed some of today's youths' conceptions about sexuality, including the following:

  • 12 to 16 per cent of students admitted not knowing where to get condoms.
  • 66 per cent of grade 7 students and 50 per cent of grade 9 students were unaware there is no known cure for HIV or AIDS.
  • Just under half of grade 9 students reported using a condom the last time they had sex and the number was lower for grade 11 students

"The most surprising result is that, though fewer teens are having sexual intercourse, those kids that are active are taking more risks," said William Boyce, a professor in the faculty of education at Queen's University who co-authored the study.

"The outcome, we hope, is that the results will be taken up by sex education [programming] to make it more precise and lead to more discussion to identify where there's misunderstanding, as opposed to just giving [students] the information," Boyce said.

Sheila Cavanagh, a professor specializing in sex education in Western's faculty of education, raised a few questions about the findings. "It is apparent that teenagers are unable to access condoms. It should be the concern of sex educators to work toward making condoms more readily accessible in schools," she said.

Leanne Powell, a public health nurse with the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Sexual Health Promotion Team, agreed with Cavanagh. "I think that [in new relationships], teens do use protection, but then they get into relationships where they'll often [only] use the birth control pill. Studies will show adolescents are known for serial monogamy - while they only have one partner at once, they may have several relationships in a year," she said.

Cavanagh also said sex educators should demystify sexuality. "There's so much fear surrounding teenage sexuality, people forget that sex is pleasurable and it's the silence surrounding sexuality that produces dangerous situations."



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