Sexting is becoming all too common.
Sexting is becoming all too common.

Teens experience unwanted sexual behaviours

TEENS in Australia are feeling the love, but it is not always welcomed.

A recent national study has found half of girls aged 16 to 17 had experienced unwanted sexual behaviours in the past 12 months - including sexual pictures, overhearing rude remarks or being touched in an embarrassing or upsetting manner.

One third of boys of the same age experienced similar behaviours.

"It is essential that parents are able to have supportive conversations early on with their children about making informed decisions about their sexual behaviours," said Dr Diana Warren.

"However, it is important that these conversations are respectful and parents understand that their child's sexuality and sexual behaviours may be different from their own."

The Growing Up In Australia study also found the majority of children in this demographic reported having had at least one boyfriend or girlfriend. But only a minority (32 per cent) reported having had sex.

Australian Institute of Family Studies Director, Anne Hollonds said young people are interested in developing romantic relationships but may not become sexually active until their late teenage years.

But, among those who were sexually active, she said there was a concerning trend emerging.

"Among teenagers who were sexually active, the majority were taking precautions, including using condoms to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections," Ms Holland said.

"However, the study found a small number of teenagers are not practising safe sex, with one in four 16-17 year-old girls and nearly one in five 16-17 year-old boys who were sexually active reporting they had not used any contraception during sex.

"This highlights the importance of sex education in schools which covers aspects of safe sex and the need to use contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections."