Third of teenagers regret 'first time'

Almost one-third of young teenagers who have had sex say their first experience happened too early, a study of sexual behaviour in young people discloses.

Almost one-third of young teenagers who have had sex say their first experience happened too early, a study of sexual behaviour in young people discloses.

The study of more than 7,000 Scottish teenagers aged under 15 confirms research showing that sex in early adolescence is often a disappointment. Girls regretted it because it was unplanned and they felt pressured and boys regretted having put pressure on the girls.

However, the study shows higher levels of regret among the boys and lower levels among the girls than previously found, suggesting the balance of power between the sexes may be changing.

The age of first intercourse is linked to teenage pregnancy rates. Family planning groups say the best hope of lowering Britain's teenage pregnancy rate - the highest in Europe - is to improve young people'sability to say no.

Coronation Street's controversial story line about 13-year-old Sarah Louise Platt, who is pregnant, has drawn praise for highlighting the risks of teenage sex. Granada TV deserved credit for its "courage", Yvette Cooper, the minister for Public Health, said at the launch in March of a government drive to halve the rate of teenage pregnancies by 2010.

For the study, published in the British Medical Journal, questionnaires were given to pupils in 24 state secondary schools in east Scotland in 1996 and 1997. Of 7,395 questionnaires completed, 661 boys and 576 girls said they had had sexual intercourse. Thirty-two per cent of the girls and 27 per cent of the boys said it had happened too early.

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