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Friday, 23 June, 2000, 00:21 GMT 01:21 UK
Teenagers losing their virginity at 15
Schoolyard
Most teenagers' first sexual experience is a one night stand and happens when they are drunk
One in four teenagers have had sexual intercourse before they are 16 and some have lost their virginity as early as 13.

A survey of 1,000 teenagers across the UK, found half of those questioned had had sex.

One in three sexually active teenagers said their first experience was a one-night stand and half said the experience had happened when they were drunk.

Most who have had sex did so for the first time at the age of 15 while those who had not yet had lost their virginity felt pressured to do so.

More than a third of girls said they regretted having sex after a one-night stand and 42% have used the morning after pill at least once.

Contraception

The survey, which was carried out for Channel 4, found few teenagers discussed contraception before having sex, while those from deprived backgrounds were half as likely to discuss or use condoms.

Condoms
One in four under 16s didn't know they could buy condoms

One in four did not think it was possible for under 16s to buy condoms and the same proportion believed a doctor would tell a girl's parents if she asked for the contraceptive pill.

One in ten boys did not know girls could get pregnant after having sex for their first time.

More girls than boys thought they should be in love before having sex. Girls who had not yet had sex were more likely to say they had not met the right person, whereas boys were more likely to say they had not had the chance.

By the time they are 16 years old, the typical British teenager has kissed or "got off with" someone. Two-thirds have engaged in light petting, such as touching breasts, while half have touched a partner's genitals.

One in three have masturbated a partner and one in five have received or given oral sex. Almost 30% of boys and 20% of girls have had an orgasm with a partner.



If we continue to ignore young people's sexuality and hope that it will go away we will be doing a great disservice to our younger generation

Dr Roger Ingham, University of Southampton

Researchers at the University of Southampton, who carried out the survey, found that the average time between a person's first kiss and losing their virginity was 3.2 years.

The time lapse between touching a girl's breast and having sex is determined as 1.4 years while those who have touched another person's genitals usually have sex within six months.

However, almost half have sex immediately after touching their partner's genitals for the first time.

Education

Dr Roger Ingham, director of the centre for sexual health research at the University of Southampton, said the findings demonstrated the need to improve sex education for British teenagers.

"Compared to some other European countries, the UK is some way behind in educating young people about sex.

"If we continue to ignore young people's sexuality and hope that it will go away, or if we simply say that abstinence programmes are the solution, then we will be doing a great disservice to our younger generation."

A spokeswoman from Brook, a charitable organisation that offers free sexual advice and contraception to more than 100,000 young people every year, expressed concern that more teenagers were not using condoms.

"While pregnancy rates for teenagers remain the same, rates of sexually transmitted infections are increasing all the time.

"But until primary and secondary schools provide proper sex education, where they address the issues around sex and not just the biological aspects, then this problem will not go away."

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See also:

09 Jun 00 | Health
Fury at teenage abortion advice
05 May 00 | Health
Teenagers 'regret' early sex
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