More than 500 teenagers so far this year have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections at the DSC Clinic in Kelantan Lane.
Most of the girls were found to have chlamydia while the boys had gonorrhoea. Both sexes also had genital herpes and genital warts.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been on the rise among teenagers. Last year, 791 teens were diagnosed with STIs at the DSC, more than three times the 238 cases in 2002. As of August this year, the number was 526.
Other statistics also point to people becoming more sexually aware from a young age.
A survey last year of 226 sexually active teens between the ages 10 and 19 found that three of them had their first sexual encounter at 11.
More than half have had at least three sex partners. One teen had 34, which might indicate that he or she was getting money for sex.
The results were presented yesterday by Dr Priya Sen, deputy head for the DSC, at the Community and Parents in Support of Schools Convention, a biennial meeting of principals, teachers and parents to strengthen partnership among the home, school and community.
Of the young having sex, Dr Sen said: ‘They’re starting younger as they’ve no parental supervision. They may meet people who are a lot older than them, and some may even get paid money to have sex.’
She also presented findings from a separate study by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS).
About 500 sexually active teens from the DSC Clinic were surveyed along with 500 teens from a polyclinic who were not sexually active.
Said Dr Sen: “Sexually active teens listed personal factors such as delinquency, smoking, alcohol use, low self-confidence, poor negotiating skills and permissive attitudes towards sex as reasons for having sex.
“They also cited environmental factors such as watching pornography and low media exposure of HIV, Aids and other STIs.”
The study found 43.6 percent of boys met their sex partners through school, as did 28.1 percent of the girls.
It also noted that 13.3 percent of boys and 10.4 percent of girls met their sex partners via the Internet.
For 7.8 percent of boys and 8.4 percent of girls, passers-by ended up as sex partners.
Dr Sen cited an example of a girl who visited the clinic. She had chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and had met her sex partner on the MRT.
The No.1 reason that boys listed for indulging in sex was that they were curious, while the top reason cited by girls was that they were “in love’ with their partner.
“Almost half the girls and about one-third of the boys surveyed said that they didn’t intend to engage in sex, but ended up doing so because they could not control themselves as they could not say “no” or were under the influence of alcohol,” she said.
The NUS survey also found that more than half the teens who went to the DSC Clinic were found to have STIs. Of those who were sexually active, less than 5 percent used condoms.
Dr Sen’s message to parents: While sex education in schools is commendable, it is important for parents to reach out to their children.
Other topics at the convention included holistic well-being and pathological computer gaming.