A new survey by the Shanghai Women's Federation found that many of the city's young females are having sex, but a large number are seriously in the dark about the consequences.
Some 80 percent of the pregnant females polled didn't use a contraceptive during their first sexual encounter.
The survey, released on Thursday, covered 452 females under age 19 who were seeking an abortion.
The poll showed the teens had open attitudes toward sex but little knowledge about the need for protection, said Cao Houkang, an expert from the China Welfare Institution who was in charge of the research.
Among the girls surveyed, 44 percent said it was appropriate to have sex with their boyfriends as long as they loved each other, and 24 percent either agreed with or were indifferent to the notion that sex is a way to earn money.
In other findings, 22.5 percent of those interviewed reported two to three sexual partners, and the shortest interval between meeting a man and having sex with him was less than a month.
During their first sexual encounter, only 19.9 percent used a contraceptive and only 2.7 percent practiced safe sex in the past year. More than half never used contraception.
"The reason for not using contraceptives is that 56.5 percent surveyed thought they wouldn't get pregnant from infrequent sex," Cao said.
The survey found that only 21 percent of the respondents had taken emergency contraception and most got the medicine from pharmacies.
An 18-year-old girl who underwent an abortion when she was eight months pregnant told researchers that the father was her second boyfriend, a classmate of hers. She said she was willing to have sex with him because they had a good relationship, but she decided on the abortion because she was too young to be a mother.
She also became pregnant from her first boyfriend and thought that was worthwhile, too.
The case indicates that some girls are indiscriminate about having sex, Cao said.
Experts suggested the government set up services to offer care and sex education to young people. And pharmacists should receive training so they can teach juveniles how to use emergency contraceptives correctly.
(Shanghai Daily August 15, 2008)