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Do young people feel pressured to have sex?

image copyrightGetty Images

"We talk about it all the time," says 16-year-old Maja.

"Sex has been normalised a lot. People aren't scared of talking about it anymore."

We're at Maja's sixth-form talking about sex because it's been suggested that the biggest regret young people have about losing their virginity is having sex "too soon".

A National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) poll, suggests a third of women and a quarter of men between 17 and 24 feel like they lost their virginity at "the wrong time".

It also claims many "may not be ready" at 16, the legal age of consent.

So does being surrounded by mates, social media and TV shows discussing sex "all the time" make it harder to control when your first time is?

"I probably wouldn't tell everyone on Snapchat if I was about to have sex - some things you keep to yourself," Maja says.

"But I do feel like I'm completely in control of the choice."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMessages and images on social media are said to add to peer pressure around people losing their virginity

Sazali, who's also 16, feels "pretty confident" he's in control of when he has sex, but also says there's "a lot of peer pressure" involved.

"Sex pops up in group chats day-to-day.

"I feel like it's more of a norm for people our age to not be virgins anymore."

Sixteen-year-old Beth agrees: "I know a lot of my friends do feel pressured to have sex because they know other people in the year have.

"Because they know other people are doing it, they're worried when they get to university they'll be on the outside because they haven't done it and they'll feel uncool."

But Nicole, who at 18 is slightly older than the other people in the discussion, suggests her friends are more comfortable to wait until they feel "right with the person that you're doing it with".

"I feel like it shouldn't be rushed because you have a lot of time in your life."

image copyrightChannel 4/ Skins
image captionSome claim shows like Skins encourage people to have sex at a young age

Beth thinks that having more access to TV shows and social media that openly refers to sex is "helping the conversation".

"But I think it's also making people think they have to have sex earlier," she says.

"In shows like Skins, pretty much all the characters have had sex.

"Loads of people watch those shows and it makes them feel like it's a normal thing that they should be doing."

Maja adds: "You see 13 or 14-year-olds putting up racy pictures.

"It's becoming a bit dangerous because I know a couple of people that age who have had sex and I wonder if they're really ready for that."

For Nicole, social media is "making younger generations evolve too quickly".

"It shows you what you can have but not necessarily when you should have it, so that encourages a certain type of behaviour.

"People are starting to have sex younger and they might go on to regret that."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe group agree with the findings that women are more likely to regret when they have sex than men

The Natsal survey claimed nearly 40% of women didn't feel like their first sexual experience happened at a time they were happy with.

Only 26% of men said the same thing.

Sazali suggests: "Girls seem to think more about how they'll do or feel more conscious about their bodies.

"Guys on the other hand are more ready to talk about it and they want to do it."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe group say being taught about STIs and contraception added to their decision around having sex for the first time

The rest of the group also think men might regret losing their virginity less than women because it's easier for them to cope socially when they first start having sex.

"With girls, if you're having sex and you're not in a relationship especially - it's like 'Oh she's sleeping around'," says Maja.

"Yeah you could get called a slut and stuff," adds Beth.

Nicole agrees.

"If a boy did that his friends might be like 'Go on mate' but girls would go 'Oh my God, I can't believe she did that', and more gossip comes out of it.

"It makes you think about it all way more."

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Related Topics

  • Life
  • Relationships
  • Sex

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