An array of cultural, religious, educational, social, and economic factors serve to influence the behavior of adolescents around the world. Most young people begin dealing with issues surrounding sexuality and related subject matter (such as STDs, birth control, and gender identity) during puberty. Sex education programs, as well as access to information addressing all aspects of sexual activity, plays an important role in shaping how male and female youth deal with their developing sexuality and sexual experiences.
Highest Rates of Sexual Activity Among 15 Year Old Girls
According to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine the percentage of 15-year old females who report having sexual experience is the highest in several countries in the United Kingdom (specifically in England, Wales, and Scotland). A report from Advocates for Youth points out that factors such as early onset of puberty as well as people marrying later than in past generations have contributed to rising rates of premarital sex throughout the world. Other reasons cited for the high rate of sexual experience among teen girls in the UK are- easy access to various types of birth control methods and high incidences of underage drinking.
A recent article published in The Telegraph includes findings from the World Health Organization which state that 15-year old girls in Wales are 50% more likely to have had sex than their male counterparts. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study also linked sexual activity with increased incidences of high-risk behavior.
Finland and Sweden
In northern European countries such as Finland and Sweden significant emphasis has been placed on providing teens with so- called “family life education.” Another factor at play in the high rates of sexual activity among teenagers in these countries may lie in the fact that the topic of sexuality is not regarded as being the taboo subject it is in many other countries. Other social factors influencing the sexual behavior of teens in Finland and Sweden include access to abortion services and birth control.
Despite public support for sex education programs in schools, Canadian female teenagers continue to rate high in sexual activity. Evidence has shown that the abstinence-only programs aimed at youth have been largely ineffective in postponing first-time sexual experience as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Another factor which may contribute to high rates of adolescent sexual activity in Canadian girls is a social atmosphere in which parents and their children fail to communicate about issues relating to sexuality.
Research has also shown that in countries such as Canada socio-economic conditions play major roles in regards to influencing adolescent sexual behavior. It has also been found that portions of the population living in poor, rural, and aboriginal communities are at a high risk of engaging in unprotected sex and therefore have higher incidences of teen pregnancy and STDs.
Many Factors At Play
Among the most powerful influences on teen girls in modern society involves the prevalence of sexual images in pop culture including those featured in television, movies, and the internet. More than ever before today’s youth are confronted on a daily basis with an enormous amount of sexual material via the media. Other factors influencing teen sexuality and sexual activity include peer pressure, difficulty communicating about sexual matters with parental figures, lack of education, and inaccessible birth control.