Preparing young people for healthy sexually active lives

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Pressure, unwanted sex and sexual assault

Pressure, unwanted sex and sexual assault

Unfortunately a lot of young people begin to see not having had sex as a burden.

Pressure for young people to have sex is real – this includes the pressure they put on themselves and the pressure placed on them by others (including the media).

A little over a quarter of sexually active 15 to 18 year olds have had unwanted sex, largely because they thought they should, they were too drunk or because they were fearful.

Young women describe tremendous pressure to have sex – and when they ‘give in’ (rather than freely choose) they are much more likely to feel used and unhappy.

Young people often fail to recognise that they have been forced into sex because they don’t realise that manipulating or cajoling someone into having sex is sexual assault (even when they know each other and the sex isn’t aggressive).

They often believe that sexual assault is always violent and committed by someone they don’t know.24

Young women are more likely than men to experience sexual assault, but it happens to all genders.

Both men and women are more likely to experience sexual assault from someone they know, rather than a stranger.12

Very few young people report that their parents have talked to them about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to sex.2

Young people tell us they want to talk about what to expect and how to cope; something more than a biology (or disease) lesson.

This kind of education makes a difference to their capacity to reflect on what’s important to them and on what they want from sex, to respect their own and their partner’s limits, to understand consent and to know that it’s OK to change their mind or express uncertainty.25

Sexual assault goes on in a lot of subtle ways when you’ve got your 16 and 17 year olds – they are dating, and they’ve all got drunk and this kind of thing. It’s not necessarily an unknown predator. It’s like at school leavers’ week, they are all disgustingly drunk and they’ve got no idea. There are older boys, not to mention the 16 and 17 year olds, all coming in…it’s an issue…especially for the girls.

Parent of boy 15 and girl 18