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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
'Alarm' at teenage health survey
The study showed teenage boys thought condoms were unimportant
Health officials in County Durham have expressed alarm at the findings of a study into young peoples' attitudes to sex, drugs and alcohol.

The Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) forum for Easington said there were "large areas of concern" for the future health of young people.

The organisation surveyed 1,500 young people, aged between 11 and 16.

The study showed 43% of boys thought it was unimportant to use condoms and that 26% of girls smoked to relieve stress.

Other findings in the survey showed that embarrassment and alcohol were the key factors discouraging young people from using contraceptives.

It revealed that 62% of boys and 68% of girls aged between 11 and 13 believed it was easy for people of their age to access illegal drugs.

The results point to children as young as 11 having an ease of access to drugs
PPI Forum Member, Ron Lamb
Most young people said looking "cool" was the key factor encouraging them to smoke.

Some 11% of boys aged 11-13 and 34% of boys aged 14-16 "often" drank alcohol.

The study also showed that a lack of public facilities was the main block to young people taking regular exercise.

PPI Forum Member, Ron Lamb said: "The district of Easington has appalling health inequalities.

"We wanted to start with the very young to see if they are learning from the many initiatives to improve the quality of their health and life expectations.

"Sadly the findings of the report - especially from the 11-13 year olds - are already indicating a worrying level of behaviour and knowledge that may set the youngsters on a very unhealthy and possibly dangerous track to adulthood."

The report has been sent to Easington Primary Care Trust to help inform where resources should be targeted to help improve the health of young people.

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