Channel NewsAsia

Social media putting youth at risk of sexual crime

Counsellors and social workers say they are seeing a rise in the number of youngsters engaging in intimate relationships at a much earlier age.

SINGAPORE: Social media sites such as Facebook serve as a platform for youth to meet more people online, putting them at risk of engaging in sexual behaviour, said counsellors and social workers.

Mr Wilson Tan, executive director of Youth Guidance Outreach Services, said the agency has seen a rise in the number of youngsters engaging in relationships at a much earlier age.

“Many do admit that they are physically intimate with them (their partners),” he added. “Some are very bold and curious in such matters. They would sometime boast that they have unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Many youths today are also a lot more open to the idea of having sex, noted Mr Low Kar Leong, a social worker at Care Corner Singapore. “Sometimes, youths may not be assertive enough to reject sex,” he said.

With pornography easily available online, the young can also get the wrong idea about sex and have the desire “to want to do it”, Mr Low added.

Sex education and parents’ monitoring of their children’s activities and behaviour are also important to prevent the young from engaging in risky sexual behaviour. Senior assistant director of Fei Yue Family Service Centre, Mrs Rachel Lee, said it is important for youngsters to learn about the circumstances that can result in a pregnancy, among other things. Such knowledge about sex will enable them to protect themselves and know when to say “no”, she added.

For parents, changes in their child’s behaviour should set the alarm bells ringing, counsellors said. These include often staying out late or staying over at a friend’s place, or choosing to stay at home during family gatherings, said Mr Tan.

Mrs Lee noted that some parents are not comfortable in talking about sex with their children, and they may sometimes come across as nagging. When it comes to the topic of sex, parents should be having a discussion with their children, instead of instructing them on the dos and don’ts, she added.