Teenagers becoming sexually active later

According to figures contained in the University of Ghent’s four-yearly report on sexual activity among teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, youngsters are becoming sexually active later now than was the case four years ago. Researchers from the university surveyed almost 10,000 13 to 17-year-olds. The study reveals that half of secondary school children hadn’t had sex before their 18th birthday.

Although this was the case in previous surveys, what is new this time around is that those that are sexually active only become so in their last year at secondary school.

Boris Cruyssaert of the sexual health group Sensoa told VRT News that there are several possible explanations for the changes in sexual behaviour among teenagers. “It could be due to young people being given better sex education at school. Young people that have been given good sex education become sexually active better prepared and later.”

Mr Cruyssaert says that a second explanation is that “There are also more young people of foreign descent that start sex later due to their religious beliefs”.

The fact that Flemish youngsters talk about sex more openly doesn’t mean that they start having sex earlier as one might presume, but rather that they are more conscious of what they are doing and the researchers believe are consequently are better able to tell their partner that they are not yet ready to become sexually active.
Lies Verhetsel of Sensoa told VRT News “They don’t let themselves be put under pressure”.

“The idea that young people start having sex earlier if you talk to them about sex is a myth. Quite the opposite is true. Young people that know nothing about sexuality start looking for information themselves and can end up using inappropriate sources, which means that they won’t know what to expect from sex”, Ms Verhetsel added.

There is traditionally there is a difference between the more academic teenagers that receive General Secondary Education (ASO) and those that trade (BSO) or technical (TSO) schools.

Youngsters that attend ASO schools generally become sexually active slightly later than their counterparts in BSO. Those that attend TSO schools are somewhere in the middle. However, the gap is narrowing.