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Canada: Internet More Useful Than Parents in Sex Education, Some Teens Report

June 22, 2011

About 40 percent of teens recently surveyed rated the Internet more useful than parents for sexual health information, and nearly one-quarter ranked it above their high school sex education classes.


The teens, who were polled last year at a pediatric emergency department in southwestern Ontario, averaged 79 percent for correct answers to questions about STD prevention. On the topic of contraception, however, their answers were correct only 43 percent of the time. The 200 youths ages 14-17 surveyed came from rural and urban areas, private, public, religious, and secular schools, and all reported having completed secondary school sex education requirements.

Almost 40 percent overestimated the efficacy of male condoms for contraception when used alone, and 27 percent mistakenly linked mutual masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex to conception. Roughly 60 percent did not know Canada's legal age of consent - 16 - and only about 30 percent correctly identified as sexual assault all four scenarios describing such attacks.

"I think we have to be careful about what conclusions we draw," said Dr. Maya Kumar, who conducted the survey with University of Western Ontario colleagues. "At this point, all we can say is that a fairly good cross-section of Ontario students who've completed the minimum [sexual health] requirements that the Ontario government feels is necessary have shown that they have some fairly serious deficiencies in knowledge."

"Teenagers are relying on the Internet as a source of sexual information, and now we have a responsibility to make sure that the information they get is accurate and of good quality," Kumar said.

Ontario's Education Minister, Leona Dombrowsky, welcomes the research, said spokesperson Mike Feenstra.

Kumar hopes similar studies will be conducted to assess the strengths and weaknesses of sex education across Canada.

Back to other news for June 2011

Adapted from:
Canadian Press
06.16.2011; Anne-Marie Tobin

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention in Young People

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