According to social workers here, more teenagers are having sex and feel that it is OK to have sex in spite of their young age.
There has been an increase in the number of cases of sex with a minor, basically sex with a girl under 16, which is a crime even if the sex was consensual.
There were 76 cases of sex with a minor last year, a drop from 89 in 2013. However, it is still an increase from 63 in 2012 and 36 in 2011.
Last year, there were 4 cases of youths who were charged with having sex with another minor, and five cases of youths committing assault with the intent of molest.
“I’ve seen roughly 20 per cent more underage sex cases over the years. Nowadays, teens are more tech-savvy and some lack parental control. They are more experimental because of curiosity and hormones raging at that age. It could also be peer pressure,” says Ms Lena Teo from the Children-at-Risk Empowerment Association (Care Singapore).
“Some in primary school are also watching pornography, which is damaging because they form unhealthy perceptions,” says Mr Lam Wai Mun, a counsellor from Touch Cyber Wellness.
Social workers say that young people are typically referred to counsellors for behavioural problems but, during counselling, they sometimes open up on their sexual experiences.
According to Mr Trevor Xie, formerly a director from the Children’s Wishing Well, a charity for underprivileged children and youth, “They don’t see losing their virginity as a loss. They see sexual experience as a gain,” he said. Mr Xie also said that these young people are usually willing parties, and are looking for love.
Another reason for the rise in the underage sex is the internet. With less strict controls online, young people have access to a mind-boggling array of “unedesirable material” online, from softcore pornography to more extreme elements such as bondage and sadomasochism.
Parents play a crucial role in imparting the right values to their children, experts say.