YCC Magazine

Vol.2 Issue 2

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Page 21 of 33

w w w . y o u t h c e n t r e s c a n a d a . c o m 21 Y outh sexual health and education is a rising issue in Canada. After a steady decrease in teen pregnancy rates across Canada since the 70's, we seem to be experiencing a sudden spike in several provinces. According to Statistics Canada, although the national rate has only risen from 27.9 per 1000 teens to 28.2, several provinces have reported a much wider gap. Pregnancy for women age 15 to 19 has increased by nearly 40 percent in New Brunswick, nearly 36 percent in Newfoundland, more than 17% in Nova Scotia and 15 percent in Manitoba. Addition- ally, Statistics Canada reports that youth age 15 to 24 experience the highest rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections in Canada, and are more likely to spread them. In 2010, 68 percent of sexually active youth reported the use of condoms during intercourse. Two thirds of youth age 15-24 across Canada reported being sexually active, and one third of those who were sexually active were with multiple partners. Research shows that the rate of STI transmission and teen pregnancy is directly linked to the level of sexual education they receive, and the number of resources pertaining to sexual health and education available to them. Youth Centres Canada is dedicated to providing these resources, as sometimes sufficient sex education is not provided at home or at school. Not to mention, many youths are not comfortable talking to their parents, guardians, or teachers about sex. Sex education at school is not often taken seriously, and sometimes parents even pull their children out of sex education because they are not comfortable with their children receiving a certain level of education on the subject. This is especially prevalent in Ontario, where the sex education curriculum has recently been updated and has caused a lot of controversy, being called "radical" and "outrageous" by some parents. However, the fact is that youth need to be educated or risk participating in sexually risky behaviour that can result in pregnancy or transmission of an STI. These circumstances often leave youth to educate themselves on sexual health, and Youth Centres can be a safe and trusted place to learn. Youth centres provide a variety of resources for youth to educate themselves on sexual health. These can include pamphlets, contact information for organizations such as Planned Parenthood who can provide support to youth in need, "question boxes" where youth can leave anonymous questions without feeling pressured, on site clinics and nurses, workshops related to sexual education and one-on-one support/referrals from youth centre staff. Often, youth are more comfortable talking to staff about sexual health issues than their parents because they view staff as "friends," rather than someone they might feel awkward talking to such as a family member. We interviewed 10 anonymous youth organizations across Canada and all 10 agreed that it is important for youth to be properly educated on sexual health. All 10 also reported having access to resources such as those mentioned above. 74 percent of the youth centre attendees age 14-16 that we interviewed reported being more comfortable talking to youth centre staff about sexual health than teachers at school or their family members. Only 45 percent of youth centre attendees we interviewed reported even having "the talk" at home at all. It is important for youth centres to provide these resources for youth, as we might be the only ones they have to talk to… And this is a conversation that needs to be had, for health's sake. SEXUAL HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS IN CANADA WHO CAN ALSO HELP: Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada http://www.anac.on.ca/sourcebook/resource_planned.htm 613-241-4474 Native Youth Sexual Health Network http://www.nativeyouthsexualhealth.com/ Youth and Sexual Health Internet Resources http://youthsexualhealth.ubc.ca/internet-resources/ Also see "WeKnowSex.ca" for a list of organizations that are specific to your province http://weknowsex.ca/wp/sexual-health-organizations/ RESOURCES: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/82-003-x2012001-eng.htm http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003- x/2008003/article/10664/5202360-eng.htm http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and- fitness/health/why-teen-pregnancy-is-on-the-rise-again-in-canada- and-spiking-in-these-provinces/article7927983/ Sexual Health Support & Resources Across Canada How YCC Can Be There For You! By Victoria St.Michael

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