By Lin Wenjian
Being a virgin is not cool. And the sooner you lose your virginity, the better. That seems to be the notion some teenagers in Singapore subscribe to, if the latest statistics on teenage sex are anything to go by.
Last year, there were 83 reported cases of statutory rape - defined by the law as girls under the age of 14 having sex, regardless of whether the act is consensual and if they knew their partners. In 2004, there were only nine such cases.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the perpetrators in most of these cases are teenage boys aged 13 to 19, many of whom are known to their 'victims'.
Although the number of teenage births - those involving girls under 19 - here has held steady, averaging 800 to 850 cases a year between 2004 and 2008, counsellors that LifeStyle spoke to are concerned.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, says: 'Five years ago, the teenagers I saw at my centres who engaged in some form of sexual act were usually 15 or 16 years old, but now I'm seeing more who are 13 or 14.' She adds that these acts include heavy petting and sexual intercourse.
Another fact: It is not always the boys who initiate the sex. She recounts a case she handled three years ago when a 15-year-old girl wrote to her wanting to know how she could ask her boyfriend to have sex with her as all her friends in school had already experienced it.
The president of the Singapore Planned Parenthood Association, Mr Edward Ong, shares her observations. He says: 'We are concerned that more youths are engaging in sexual activities that could lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.'
He says that in the last few years, he has also seen teenage boys who told him that it was their girlfriends who wanted to have sex. His association is compiling numbers on teenage sexual activity, the results of which will be ready later this year.
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