If you believe much of what you read and hear today, the teens of the 21st Century so far are having sex for the first time much earlier than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. In developed nations there are quite a few school systems that begin sex education classes before kids hit puberty. These classes are designed to teach youngsters about the body, the reproduction process and how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. They are not designed to be a free-for-all to begin having sex.
According to studies the earlier an individual begins having sex the higher the incidents of STIs, teen depression and suicide among other issues. Their brains and thought processes have not caught up with the intensity of the new hormones invading their bodies.
According to Dr. Jokin de Irala who conducted a multi-national survey of 7,011 boys and girls from both private and public schools in Peru, El Salvador and Spain, that the mean age at which these youths have their first sexual experience is 15. But this is a mean average. There are those below and above this age having sex – this is just an average between the highs and lows. He claims that most 15 year olds in these countries are still virgins and that only 20% had ever had sex. According to his calculations in these countries, most have their first experience between 18 and 19.
The age that the young have their first sexual encounter deviates by what part of the world in which they live. There are many underdeveloped, rural areas where girls are married right out of puberty and begin having children at 13 years of age.
The Age of Consent
In the US this would be against the law as it would be in many other countries. It all depends on the prevailing age of consent. Essentially it means that if you have sex with someone when you or they are under the age of consent, then you are breaking the law – even if you both have sex willingly. In the eyes of the law people are unable to give informed consent to sex when they are still considered a child. This is how the law defines statutory rape. Young men 18 years of age who may be considering having sex with a girl under a certain age refer to her as ‘jail bait.’
Here are a few examples of the heterosexual age of consent in different countries:
- In some parts of the United States and Egypt – age 18
- UK and Namibia (and many other countries) – age 16
- Sweden – age 15
- Canada – age 14
- Korea – age 13
- Mexico – age 12.2
It is difficult to imagine a 12 year old girl in Mexico not being jail bait – but that it their law.
There was a recent BBC poll that showed that nearly a third of 16 to 24-year-olds lost their virginity below the age of consent.
The BBC Radio 1 poll also suggested 43% of young people had had at least five sexual partners with one in five having more than 10.
Over half – 57% – claimed to have had a one-night stand.
But many of the youngsters, who made up two-thirds of the 29,623 who responded to the online poll, said they did not always use condoms with new partners.
Some 38% of young people do not always use a condom with a new partner, with being too drunk cited as one of the most common reasons.
Who is responsible for Condoms?
It has always been an assumption that the ‘boy’ would have a condom in his billfold or pocket and it was his responsibility to keep his date or partner safe. So many young girls have been impregnated and exposed to diseases due to this poor practice.
Girls have the right to purchase condoms and have them on hand and insist that their dates wear them if they want to have sex. They can purchase male or female condoms.
Many ask at what age should teens be allowed to buy condoms and if they are forbidden by law from purchasing them. Different countries have different laws. But if any teen, male or female, is considering having sex, they should have access to condoms. Some school nurses and county health departments will supply them for free – just for asking. In the US no proof of age or identification is needed. However, in some states the legal age to have sex is 18 while in other states its 16. So some sales staff might be concerned about selling condoms to individuals that are “under age”. If you are concerned about potential embarrassment when shopping in a store, you can always buy condoms
Condoms across the Globe
Logically, there should never be an age restriction for purchasing a condom. The buyer is trying to protect himself from getting a disease. There are no age limits to buying an aspirin for a headache. However, in some countries there is a stigma associated with purchasing condoms and young people are totally embarrassed. Some will travel to a neighboring town so they will not meet anyone who may know them.
India is a good example of this. A boy who goes into a store to buy condoms knows that the clerk will know exactly what he is going to be doing with them. He believes he will be branded as immoral. While there is no age restriction he may still be too embarrassed. In India anyone – male or female – may purchase condoms online without embarrassment because these transactions are private.
As everyone knows Ireland is a very Catholic country and they listen intently to what the Pope rules. Although he has loosened the noose regarding the purchase of condoms to prevent the spread of the Zika virus to unborn babies, the use of condoms is still prohibited for birth control and the spread of other diseases.
According to a Wikipedia statement “- In 1978 the Health (Family Planning) Bill was introduced by Charles Haughey. This bill limited the provision of contraceptives to bona fide “family planning or for adequate medical reasons”. A controversial part of the bill was that contraceptives could only be dispensed by a pharmacist on the presentation of a valid medical prescription from a practicing doctor. It is often wrongly stated that the recipient of the prescription had to be married, but the legislation required no such terms. The reason for this compromise was the strong position of conservative elements in Irish society at the time, particularly the Roman Catholic Church which made it difficult for the government to provide for a more liberal law. Contraception was also not seen by politicians as a vote-getter at the time. Haughey famously described the 1979 Act as “an Irish solution to an Irish problem“. On 1 November 1980 the Act came into operation by order of the Minister.
The Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1985 liberalized the law by allowing condoms and spermicides to be sold to people over 18 without having to present a prescription; however sale was limited to categories of places named in the act. The Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1992 repealed Section 4 of the 1979 act, as amended in 1985, and continued the provision of contraceptives without prescription, allowing sale to individuals over the age of 17. As of 2010, the 1992 Act and the Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act of 1993 are the main Irish legislation on contraceptive and family planning services.”
The Japanese take their Sex Seriously
The age of consent in Japan is 13. Therefore anyone aged 13 and above can buy condoms. In a recent survey carried out by Japanese condom manufacturer Sagami Condoms, however, 4,100 people from all over the country disclosed the intricate details of their sex lives, discussing everything from when they first started doing it to how often they have sex today and whether they’re completely satisfied in bed.
In the survey, Sagami asked participants aged 20-60 from all 47 of Japan’s prefectures a number of questions about their sex lives. Sagami’s survey revealed Okinawans who are, on average, the youngest when it comes to first time with a partner, with the average Okinawan being just 19.6 years old when they make their initial foray into the world of sex, even though the age of consent is 13.
The Swiss have a publicized problem of teenage pregnancy and the spread of disease among boys as young as 14. An AIDS awareness organization went to a local manufacturer of condoms to determine why the youths were not wearing condoms and how they could fix the problem. Sold only in Switzerland, the Ceylor Hotshot condom is a smaller sized condom designed to fit the younger crowd.
The German magazine, Bravo, conducted a survey which included 13,000 respondents age 14 to 20. 25% of the respondents said condoms were too large. In Switzerland in the previous year a 13 year old girl became the youngest mother in the history of the country. This is a prime example of babies having babies. The father was 14. When questioned as to why they did not use a condom he explained that they did but it had fallen off.
Experts say that providing condoms that are comfortable and pleasurable to teens will encourage their use and thus decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and STDs. As of this writing the manufacturer has no plans to introduce these new condoms into the UK or US.
Peru has a few outdated ideas regarding sex and the availability of condoms. Individuals in the 15 to 24 age category represent half the new HIV cases worldwide. Children cannot attend a public health clinic for reproductive health services without their parents. Who want to tell their parents they want to have sex? UNAIDS describes sex education in Peru as “insufficient and hindered by conservative attitudes.”
Nigeria has an estimated 5.4 percent of adults aged fifteen to forty-nine are HIV-positive. Condoms remain inaccessible or unaffordable for many Nigerians. In a 2002 survey, 75 % of health service facilities visited by Deliver, a program run in Nigeria by the U.S.-based John Snow International, were missing condoms or contraceptive supplies.
Condom promotion in Nigerian schools is limited. While the national approved curriculum for HIV prevention education includes comprehensive education and condom promotion messages, only three of Nigeria’s fifty state governments have adopted and implemented it in their schools. This delay results, in part, from state governments bending to religious pressure.
Among all the stories and reports on individual countries and their laws regarding the sale of condoms to preteens as they enter puberty there is always one or two discussions that stand out. Bhutan, a landlocked nation of about 700,000 people sandwiched between India and China, is the world’s only officially Buddhist country, and has about 388 monastic schools with 7,240 monks and 5,149 nuns. No need for sex education or condoms here, right?
Health officials in Bhutan are making condoms available at all monastic schools in a bid to stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV among young monks who are supposed to be celibate. “We are making condoms freely available everywhere, even in monastic schools and colleges,” Bhutan’s minister of health, Zangley Drukpa, said. The ministry, he added, has formed a special action group to deal with STDs in monasteries.
“Warning signs of risky behavior among monks first appeared in 2009, when a report on risks and vulnerabilities of adolescents revealed that monks were engaging in “thigh sex” (in which a man uses another man’s clenched thighs for intercourse), according to the state-owned Kuensel daily.
The health ministry got concerned when a dozen monks — including a 12-year-old — were diagnosed with sexual transmitted diseases a year later, Kuensel reports. At least five monks are known to be HIV-positive, the youngest being 19.
The 2012 report of the U.N. agency focused on AIDS response and progress also noted cases of HIV among Bhutan’s monks.”
While many religions and governments try to legislate sex and sexuality, it is a difficult chore. Pre-teens and teens are going to have sex whether their parents like it or not. This has been the norm throughout the ages. Allowing someone in this age category to purchase condoms does not give them free reign to become addicted to sex. However it does give them the protection they will need if and when they become sexually active.
People who are scared of home invasions may keep a hand gun in the drawer beside their beds. Just the idea that it is there if ever needed gives many a great sense of security and peace of mind.