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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Seaside towns 'increase teen sex'
Blackpool beach
Blackpool had a high teenage pregnancy rate
Teenagers in English seaside resorts are more likely to get pregnant than those elsewhere due to a "hedonistic" party culture, a report says.

The government's Teenage Pregnancy Unit found the availability of alcohol and drugs encouraged "sexual risk-taking" among girls as young as 14.

They were also often exploited by tourists and seasonal workers.

Official figures show Blackpool has 74.8 conceptions per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17. The national average is 42.6.

'Sun, sea and (casual) sex'

The figure for Hastings is 61.3 and for Southend it is 50.4.

The government report - Living on the Edge - found a feeling of "carnivalesque excitement" among young people in seaside towns.

This led to "detachment, the suspension of reality".

Sexual health services within the towns were often "difficult to access".

The report accuses the entertainment industry of luring visitors to the seaside with "sun, sea, sand and (casual) sex", which serves to encourage "early sexual activity and unprotected sex".

Some 68 groups of 12 to 17 year olds and 80 key professionals, young parents and transient workers were interviewed by academics from Brighton University, Hull University and Liverpool University.

The research was carried out at resorts in the East Midlands, North West and South East of England.

The number of under-18s who became pregnant in England and Wales rose from 40,966 in 2001 to 41,868 in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available.

The government said this was a "blip" in a trend which had seen the rate fall during the preceding three years.

Last year, ministers announced a 40m teenage pregnancy strategy to run until 2006.

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