We investigated knowledge, attitudes, norms, and values of teenagers, parents, teachers, and policymakers in relation to sex and sex education in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a view to informing sex education policy. Methods were: narrative interviews with key stakeholders, and analysis of key policy documents; questionnaire survey of teenagers; 20 focus groups of teenagers; questionnaire survey of parents; and two focus groups of parents. Qualitative and quantitative data were assessed separately with thematic and statistical analysis, respectively, then combined. FINDINGS: We noted five important influences on Thai teenagers' sexual attitudes and behaviour: ambiguous social roles leading to confused identity; heightened sexual awareness and curiosity; key gaps in knowledge and life skills; limited parental input; and impulsivity and risk-taking. Male teenagers aspire to be "smart boys", whose status depends on stories of sexual performance and conquests.
Teen sex shame bears a heavy price
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Dao had unprotected sex one night when she was 17 because her boyfriend felt too ashamed to buy a packet of condoms. Two students get up close and personal in a public park in Bangkok. However, he quickly returned the pack to the shelf after a middle-aged man gave him a look of disgust. That night Dao and her boyfriend went without. Dao fell pregnant but was not ready to have a child. Her mother forced her to leave school after she realised her daughter was pregnant. Dao entered the workforce with limited school leaving qualifications. Now 23, she works as a cashier at a small supermarket to feed herself and her young son.
Kurumin Aroma felt like her life was over at just Fast forward eight years and Aroma looks back at the episode with crushing regret. But she is determined to weaponize the ensuing trauma to help stop others from becoming, like her, one of the hundreds of young Japanese women coerced into pornography by tricksters masquerading as legitimate modeling agents. The coercion of young women into pornography and prostitution has become an epidemic in Japan, where the fetishization of adolescence is disturbingly common and legal protections for children shockingly lax. Ten years ago most of those she helped came from abroad, but today the bulk of cases that come before her charity comprise teenage runaways and abuse victims from Japan. Although officially illegal, Japan has a booming sex industry due to numerous loopholes. An estimated 5, teenagers earn cash this way. Most shockingly, child pornography, only made illegal in , remains rife.
The massage parlor is already swallowing clients through its dark doorway; cheap perfume hangs in the air. The Home of Body Building exudes a sour sweat from the hall where older men are eyeing prancing young boys. But in a nearby shelter for former prostitutes the scene is demure, as girls settle down for group therapy. This day, a visitor is taking Polaroid pictures and passing them around. The pictures make the girls look like small, spindly birds, rather than sex objects. It is hard to imagine that not long ago these children, aged 11 to 14, worked as prostitutes, used by men three and four times their age. As soon as Lek sees her photograph, the quiet year-old girl is transformed. She jumps up and pokes wildly at her image. She has never told her life story, but now she belts it out. Auntie put her in a brothel.