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The study was conducted by the World Health Organization and sampled thousands of 10th graders from all over the world, 874 of them from Israel. The results indicate that 18.5% of Israeli 10th graders reported having sexual intercourse.
However, it seems Israel's youth are becoming more and more conservative; in a study conducted in 1998 the number of sexually active 15-year-olds was 27%.
Cold winter, hot youth
According to the current study, students from Greenland are the most sexually active with 59.8% of 10th graders admitting to being sexually active. Denmark came in second with 37.7%; Romania was third with 32.9%; Austria and Sweden tied for fourth with 31.6%; England came in fifth with 31% and Luxemburg came in sixth with 30.9%.
At the other end of the spectrum, closing the list at the 35th place was Slovakia with only 12.7% of 15-year-olds reportedly having sex. In the 34th place was Poland with 15.7%; in the 33rd - Ukraine with 18% and Israel at the 32nd place with 18.5%.
Israeli teenagers lost the 31st place to Croatia, that has a rate of 19.2% sexually actively teenagers.
Some 5.9% of the boys and 3.7% of the girls reported that their first sexual encounter was at the age of 12. As the age rises to 15, a higher number of girls report sexual activities in comparison to boys.
Underage sex, underage protection
The research was conducted by the head of the World Health Organization's international research team in Israel, Dr. Yossi Harel-Fisch and Dr. Meyran Boniel-Nissim, both from the Bar-Ilan University.
Dr. Harel-Fisch said that public health research around the world and in Israel is geared towards educating youths on the dangers of unprotected sex, which according to him leads to unwanted teen pregnancy and raises chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Hila Segal, head of the Sexuality and Injury Prevention unit at the Education Ministry, said that in the past few years parents and teachers have become more and more conservative.
She claimed that sex at a young age can cause serious psychological and physical harm. "We keep finding sexual activity based on pressure, leading to regret. In some cases rumors and pictures spread around afterwards, exacting a heavy personal price."
In addition, she added that over the past 20 years more and more educators in the system are talking to kids about the benefits of emotional, as well as psychical, maturity as a prerequisite to sexual activity.