Around half of year 10 to 12 students have had sex and most of them discussed sexual health before doing so, an annual survey of Australian teenagers has found.
The sixth National Survey of Secondary Students and Sexual Health conducted by La Trobe University last year asked 6,327 teenagers from government, Catholic and independent schools from each state and territory about their sexual behaviour and knowledge of sexually transmitted infections.
The results, released today, found overall 47% of students surveyed had had (vaginal and/or anal) intercourse — as had 34% of Year 10s, 46% of Year 11s and 56% of Year 12s.
Researchers said students reported “responsible” sexual behaviours — 81% discussed having sex and 77% discussed their sexual health before intercourse. More than half (56%) used condoms and/or the oral contraceptive pill (41%).
This might be because the number of students accessing information about sexual health online (79%) had almost doubled from 2013 (44%).
The most trusted source of sexual health information for teenagers was GPs (89%), followed by their mother (60%).
But most (87%) did not believe they were likely to get an STI, which is a statistic that has remained largely unchanged since 1992, researchers said.
The survey found the rate of sexting had gone down by about 3% since 2013.
Overall, one-third (33%) of students reported “sexting” in the last two months, mostly with a girlfriend, boyfriend or friend. More than half (55%) had done so only once or a few times in the last two months.
About half (50.7%) had received a sexually explicit written text message and 40% reported sending similar messages. About one third (30.3%) had used social media sites for sexual reasons and very few had sent sexually explicit materials of someone else (5.8%).
Most (89%) of the students who weren’t yet sexually active said they didn’t regret their decision not to have sex.