AN INSIGHT into the sex lives of teenagers in a North-East town has revealed that almost a fifth of boys turn to pornography for advice.
A survey of thousands of teenagers in Darlington revealed almost half of them (48 per cent) do not know where get advice on sex and relationships, with 18 per cent of boys looking to pornography for information.
Just 49 per cent of sexually active youngsters say they always use contraception with ten per cent saying they never do – despite more than a third confessing to being concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
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The social norms survey, conducted by the Darlington Drug and Alcohol Action Team, quizzed about 3,500 school pupils about their lives, with those in years nine to 11 being asked about their sexual activity.
While the number of teenagers having sex is decreasing, more than 32 per cent of those who have had sex say they regretted their actions.
Girls regret having sex more than boys, at 43 per cent compared to 17 per cent.
With the average age of virginity loss being 14, teenagers listed being too young as their main cause of regret, alongside being under the influence of alcohol.
For advice on sexual matters, the youngsters primarily turn to parents, teachers and friends – though some use the internet and pornography.
The survey also found that young people think their peers are having more sex than they are – only 14 per cent had had sex but the teenagers overestimated that figure at 38 per cent.
Councillor Cyndi Hughes, cabinet member for children and young people in Darlington, said: “A great deal of work is being done to promote sexual health services and provide information to young people.
“Even more will need to be done, however, to encourage the use of contraception amongst those young people who are sexually active.
“I’m worried about the boys who turn to porn to teach them about sex because pornography portrays sex outside a loving or caring relationship and may raise expectations as to what to expect in the real world."
She added: “Young people are maturing physically at an earlier age. We need to be sure they are equipped with the information and advice that they need to stay safe, be healthy and be ready— emotionally and socially— before engaging in sexual activity.”