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Changes needed in teen sex advice: study

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/07/2016

Urgent changes are needed in the way teens are being taught about sex, according to a new study that's found contraceptive use is dropping among high-risk students.

Data from 27,000 Kiwi high school students has found while teens are delaying sexual activity compared to a decade ago, those that are having sex are less likely to use condoms and contraception consistently.

The research from the University of Auckland compared survey results from 2001 to 2012 and found more access to sexual health services and better education are urgently needed for high-risk teens.

"Declining contraceptive use over an 11-year period suggests that current strategies are inadequate, particularly for Maori, Pacific and socioeconomically deprived students," study lead Terryann Clark said.

"Appropriate and accessible sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education are urgently required."

Dr Clark said one of the best ways to reduce teen pregnancy was to make sure students had future plans and were engaged at school.

"Strategies that address youth sexual health must take into account the big picture - education, employment and aspirations," she said.

Access to free, non-judgmental and culturally appropriate sexual health care and education were important too, she said.

"Sexual health is still shrouded in secrecy, shame and embarrassment. Health professionals, educators and families do not address sexual health issues with youth well," she said.

There were still significant cultural and access issues for Maori and Pasifika youth, she said.

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