More than a
quarter of 11-year-olds in the UK know someone their age who is
having sex, according to a new survey.
The charity, Marie Stopes International, commissioned the study
of 1,077 children aged from 11-15.
It intends to use the findings to win support for a new campaign
it is running to supply any child logging onto its website with free
condoms on request, which will be posted to them at home.
More than half of those surveyed did not know that condoms could
prevent HIV while one in 10 believed the virus could be passed on
The study also revealed that more young people were concerned
about contracting a sexually transmitted infection or getting
pregnant than they were about doing well at school.
Sam Guy, Marie
Stopes International's Adolescent Advisor, said:, "Not only are
young people unaware of the benefits of condoms, many are also too
embarrassed to actually buy and use them.
We know from the thousands of letters we
get every day at Sugar that the message about safe sex is just
not getting through
Girls' magazine editor
"Marie Stopes International UK hopes to overcome these factors by
encouraging young people to find out about condoms and become
comfortable with them before they think about having sex."
He said one particularly worrying statistic was that even where
young people had received sex education at school, their levels of
awareness were not significantly higher.
Despite 77% saying they had some form of sex education at school,
more than a quarter said they needed further information.
The survey results are being published in Sugar, a magazine for
Editor Claire Irvin said the survey proved children were still
confused about sex and contraception.
"We know from the thousands of letters we get every day at Sugar
that the message about safe sex is just not getting through," she
"Shocking results such as these help underline Sugar's message
about sexual health and we will continue to give our readers the
advice they need on safe sex when they are in a loving and trusting
relationship and ready to have sex."
The charity said the purpose of the research was to investigate
children's experiences of sex education and knowledge of sex,
contraception and related issues.