Improving Young Men's Sexual and Reproductive Health

  • Tony Ryall
Youth Affairs

"The Ministry of Youth Affairs will investigate publicising child support payment obligations as a way to make young men sit up and take notice of the safe sex message", Youth Affairs Minister, Tony Ryall, said today.

The idea is one of a number of options raised in a Youth Affairs paper dealing with Young Men's Involvement in Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health, released by Tony Ryall today.

"Young New Zealanders experience a high level of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection", said Mr Ryall.

"The Government has three goals to try to turn the statistics around.

"We want young people to delay sexual activity, until they understand and are ready to deal with its consequences.

"If young people do become sexually active, we want them to use contraceptives and practice safe sex.

"And, we want young people to have the confidence to seek treatment for an STD if they need to.

"The report gives us some ideas about how we might better achieve these goals. It follows on from the release last month of a Youth Affairs paper, Young Men's Sexual and Reproductive Health.

"Some of its findings have significant implications for how sex education is taught in our schools. Others might involve new programmes in collaboration with Corrections, CYPFA, Health and IRD.

"The report found young men are interested in learning more about sexuality, but are more likely to get information if they can pick it up discretely and learn in private. That's because they are often embarrassed or reluctant to talk about sex.

"Many young men are also embarrassed about buying condoms, and this may restrict their use. Overseas studies show that if young men can obtain condoms discretely they may be more likely to use them.

"And, the report shows a huge information gap about the treatment of sexually transmitted infections. It recommends that a lot more work is done in this area.

"Other key recommendations include taking the opportunity to help young people in detention to develop life skills such as parenting, relationships, and sexual and reproductive health, and teaching young men how to use condoms correctly and what to do should a condom fail.

?In light of the report's findings, I have asked the Youth Affairs Ministry to work with other government agencies to develop better ways to reach young men, and to encourage them to take more responsibility for improving the sexual health of young people.