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More sex ed needed for Toronto teens, says survey

It says teens are engaging in risky sexual behaviour but aren’t gettingthe information they need to protect themselves fromsexually-transmitted infections.

A new survey says Toronto teens need more sexual health education.

It says teens are engaging in risky sexual behaviour but aren’t getting the information they need to protect themselves from sexually-transmitted infections.

The survey of 1,216 teens ages 13 to 18 is a joint project of Planned Parenthood Toronto, York University, the University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Toronto Public Health.

It found 83 per cent of respondents had never accessed sexual heath care from a doctor or a clinic, many because of concerns over confidentiality.

Young women were twice as likely to access sexual health services, but males, younger respondents and people from the Black, Asian, Aboriginal and Muslim communities were less likely to use sexual health services.

Eight per cent of teens who took part in the survey, conducted in workshops at various existing programs for youth, had not had any sex education at all.

The survey’s authors say in many cases these were older teens who had immigrated to Canada recently, missing sex education that is mandatory in Ontario elementary and early high school grades.

Overall, they found 24 per cent of teens who took part in the survey had never engaged in any sexual experiences, while 27 per cent reported vaginal intercourse, 25 per cent reported giving or receiving oral sex and seven per cent reported anal sex.

Sixty-nine per cent of participants reported kissing a partner.

The authors say teens experience a variety of barriers to sexual health information and services and they need programs tailored to their age and situations.

“The information and services that work for a 14-year-old Asian lesbian are not going to be the same as what works for an 18-year-old straight African male who is a newcomer to Canada,” said Sarah Flicker, professor of environmental studies at York University.

Respondents who reported having access to sexual health information say it isn’t what they are interested in.

 
 
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