FORUM Sexuality Education and Family Planning
Youth sexuality national international
This edition of FORUM describes current international research results relating to youth sexuality from Germany, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom.
At the beginning of September, the German Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung – BZgA) published new data on youth sexuality in Germany in 2010. The results reported in the first article in this issue focus on migration: statements made by young people from a migration background on their attitudes and behaviour related to sexuality education, sexuality and contraception were evaluated separately and can thus be compared with the data from the main cohort – with interesting results.
The second article deals with condom use in 16–20-year-old young people in Germany, as revealed by the study “Public Awareness of AIDS”. The results of the study indicate that condoms are very widely accepted and are used both for protection against unwanted pregnancy and also for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STI). International experts consider whether, in view of high infection rates among young people in some parts of Europe, more emphasis should be placed on the use of condoms in STI prevention.
How can prevention messages reach young people from a migration background more effectively? This is a question of constant concern to BZgA – since around one third of all young people in Germany come into this group – and has now been addressed in a representative study. A new feature of this diagnostic study is evaluation using a milieu model, which allows responses from young people from a migration background to be differentiated and thus produces valuable results for research and practice.
An online survey in Switzerland provides information about sexual and contraceptive behaviour and knowledge about sex among young people aged between 10 and 20 years. In this survey, as in the BZgA studies, contraceptive behaviour has improved dramatically over recent decades, although sexually active boys, who show positive trends in the current study in Germany, stated in large numbers in the Swiss study that they did not use contraception the first time they had sex.
The contribution from France addresses the acceptability of condoms versus the Pill. Here, as in Germany, condoms are now consciously used for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections; in both countries, they are used particularly often in the early stages of a sexual relationship, particularly the first time the couple have sex, but are then replaced by the Pill and other methods of contraception as the relationship continues. The authors explicitly include factors such as sex and social status in their analysis.
A particularly large body of research data is currently available from the United Kingdom. The first article deals with the sources of information used by English teenagers to obtain information about sexual issues and the influence of their own sexual experience on that process.
A second article discusses how important it is to emphasize the positive aspects of sexuality in sexuality education and call things by their proper names, and the resistance this position has provoked in the United Kingdom.
The final UK article describes the use of reversible long-acting contraceptives for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies in British teenagers.
In this issue, we also report briefly in the section “Projects” on current projects, such as SAFE II, dealing with sexual and reproductive health of young people in Europe, and on a project by the Hamburg Institute for Sex Research and Forensic Psychiatry on the sexual and social relationships of 17- and 18-yearolds in Germany.
The next issue of FORUM will be an in-depth study of sexual abuse.