Poon C, Smith A, Saewyc E, & McCreary Centre Society. (2015). Sexual health of youth in BC. McCreary Centre Society

In 2013, the h BC Adolescent Health Survey (BC AHS) was completed by nearly 30,000 students in grades 7 to 12 in public schools across British Columbia.

Sexual health was one of many topics covered in the survey. Youth were asked about their sexual health behaviours and sexual experiences. As some youth do not consider engaging in oral sex as “having sex,” students were asked about oral sex and intercourse separately.

  • Most youth were not sexually active. Three quarters of BC youth had not engaged in either oral sex or intercourse.
  • Youth who did have intercourse were waiting longer to do so than in previous survey years. Four percent of youth under the age of 15 had ever had intercourse, compared to 7% in 2008 and 8% in 2003.
  • Youth who first had intercourse at age 15 or older engaged in safer sexual practices than those who first had intercourse at an earlier age.
  • Sixty-nine percent of students who ever had intercourse reported using a condom or other barrier the last time they had intercourse, while 17% of those who ever had oral sex used such a barrier the last time they had oral sex.

Three percent of youth who ever had intercourse did not use any method of contraception the last me they had intercourse. Youth who did not use contraception were more than five times as likely as those who used some contraceptive method to report a history of pregnancy.

Social inequities appeared to contribute to challenges in sexual health. Unstable home life, a history of government care, and poverty were associated with poorer sexual health. Similarly, some marginalized groups such as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, those with a health condition or disability, and youth with custody experience, reported higher sexual health risks than their peers. Violence exposure, including abuse, dating violence, bullying, and discrimination, were also linked to poorer sexual health.

Young people can be supported to make safer sexual health decisions. Students who were connected to family, school, or community; had supportive adult and peer networks; were engaged in extracurricular activities; felt good about themselves and their abilities; and had positive aspirations for the future all reported healthier sexual choices.

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