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Alcohol remains the biggest single contributory factor, mentioned by 75% of those who had had casual sex.

Young people under more pressure than ever to have casual sex

24 September 2014 - Despite growing awareness of the dangers of casual sex, six in ten young people admit to having a one-night stand.

A recent survey of under-25s in bars and nightclubs in the West Midlands found that many use sex to boost their status or self-esteem and that drink and drugs are often implicated in one-off and casual sexual relationships.

The results of the survey by Moo Moo Youth Marketing ( MMYM)[] a progressive peer-led organisation, who are passionate about equipping young people through innovative communication to make informed decisions about their health and well being, were released in the wake of Sexual Health Week and on the eve of Freshers’ Week at universities and colleges.

Charlotte Slater, MD of MMYM, said: “Some parts of the media would have us believe that all young people spend most of their free time taking part in drug and booze-fuelled orgies. Our findings suggest it’s not as bad as that, bearing in mind that we included sex acts short of full intercourse in our definition of ‘one-night stand’, but they also show that many young people are still exposing themselves to the risks of casual sex, which in some ways are greater than ever.”

Slater says that apart from the “traditional” issues of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, there are other less obvious dangers including the risk of having sexual encounters captured on social media.

“Untold numbers of young people face a lasting legacy of embarrassment, or worse, when evidence of their sexual exploits is posted online,” she says. “There are things you can take for a nasty virus, but there’s no known cure for going viral.”

Liberal attitudes to sexual behaviour in the young can also lead to problems forming long-term relationships and “low self-esteem can become self-perpetuating when people have sex in the belief that it will increase their desirability or popularity,” Slater says.

The survey found that 15% of people who admitted to having a one-night stand believed it would boost their confidence.

Few of the survey’s respondents said they were coerced into sex by a partner and only 3% mentioned peer pressure as a factor. “On the face of it, this is a positive finding,” says Slater, “but there is strong evidence of a general attitudinal pressure to be sexually active.” She cites the high numbers who mentioned having recently come out or another relationship (23%) and those who said they wanted “sex without ties” (46%).

“Both findings suggest that young people feel there is something wrong with them if they are not in a sexual relationship,” Slater says.

Alcohol remains the biggest single contributory factor, mentioned by 75% of those who had had casual sex. Drugs were a cited as a factor by 21% of the same group.

About the survey
The survey of 380 people (57% female, 43% male) under the age of 25 was conducted over the course of three days in bars and nightclubs in Birmingham and Walsall in September.


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