Israeli teens rank near last among youths in Western countries in terms of sexual activity before the age of 15, according to a study conducted by professors at Bar-Ilan University.
Only 18.5 percent of 874 Israeli 10th-graders surveyed said they had engaged in sexual activity, placing the country 32nd out of the 35 countries studied by professors Yossi Harel-Fish and Miran Boniel Nissim, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.
Researchers found that the percentage of teens having sex before the age of 15 has been in decline for the past decade and a half. The last study of juvenile sexual activity conducted in 1998 found that 27% of teens of the same age said they had engaged in sexual activity.
Greenland, which is cloaked in darkness for several months of the year, ranked highest for under-15 sex, with 59.8% of respondents reporting in the affirmative. Denmark ranked second with 37.7% of teens acknowledging sexual relations before age 15.
Only Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia ranked lower than Israel, with 18, 15.7, and 12.7 percent, respectively, of teens having sex before 10th grade.
The director of the Education Ministry’s sexual education department told Yedioth that there has been a conservative trend in recent decades by Israeli educators and parents. She said that sexual activity at a young age causes physical and emotional damage.
“We find again and again that there is sex under pressure and afterwards there is regret,” Hila Segel said. “In some of the cases pictures and rumors are disseminated and [the victim] pays a heavy price.”