EASY MENU

Sexuality is an important part of the overall wellness of all people.

INTRODUCTION TO SEXUALITY AND HIGH RISK YOUTH

The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education emphasizes that all Canadians have a right to accessible sexuality education (PHAC, 2008). “The majority of youth receive sexual health education in school and in their homes. However, for youth who are living on the streets and who have dropped out or been expelled from school, there is often no access to broadly based sexual health education” (p. 10). This places these youth at risk for poor sexual health outcomes.

Sexuality is an important part of the overall wellness of all people.

Sexuality is not just sexual intercourse or sexual activity. Sexuality includes:

 

  • Gender roles, identities and sexual orientation.
  • Body image.
  • Relationships with others.
  • How we grow and change over the years.
  • How we reproduce.
  • Personality, communication, expression, and values.

For more information about what sexuality is, see the Sexuality Wheel.

Canadian research shows that:

  • Street-involved youth have high rates of sexual activity.

In a 2010 Edmonton study of street-involved youth, 98.5% of youth ages 15-24, had sexual intercourse at least once (Alberta Health Services, 2011).

 

Whereas according to the 2009/2010 Canadian Community Health Survey, 66% of mainstream youth aged 15-24 had sexual intercourse at least one time (Rotermann, 2012).

99%
street-involved youth aged 15-24

had sexual intercourse at least once

66%
mainstream youth aged 15-24

had sexual intercourse at least once

  • Street-involved youth begin sexual activity at an early age and have multiple sexual partners.

In one Canadian study, the average age of first intercourse among street youth was 14 years.

Also, male street involved youth reported an average of 18-45 lifetime sex partners while females reported an average of 4-21 (PHAC, 2006).
  • Street-involved youth are at risk for STIs.

In a 2010 study of Edmonton street-involved youth ages 15-24,

12.7% tested positive for chlamydia, and 2.0% tested positive for gonorrhea (Alberta Health Services, 2011).

Whereas in 2010,

about 1.6% of all Albertan youth ages 15-24 years tested positive for chlamydia and 0.1% tested positive for gonorrhea (Lokanc-Diluzio, 2014).

  • Street-involved youth are at risk for pregnancy.

43%
Female street-involved youth

who had ever been pregnant

In an Edmonton study of street-involved youth ages 15-24, 43% of the females had ever been pregnant.

  • Street-involved youth do not always use condoms during sexual activity.

In an Edmonton study of street-involved youth ages 15-24, 57% used a condom during their last vaginal sex, 22% used a condom during their last oral sex, and 51% used a condom during their last anal sex (Alberta Health Services, 2011).

used condoms during last vaginal sex0%
used condoms during last oral sex0%
used condoms during last anal sex0%

Whereas according to the 2009/2010 Canadian Community Health Survey, 67.9% of mainstream youth aged 15-24 used condoms during their last sexual intercourse (Rotermann, 2012).

used condoms during last intercourse0%
  • Street-involved youth are sometimes involved in the sex trade.

In an Edmonton study, 27% of females and 2.5% of males reported having sex trade involvement at some point (Alberta Health Services, 2011).

27%
female street-involved youth

having sex trade involvement at some point

2.5%
male street-involved youth

having sex trade involvement at some point

It is important for service providers working with high risk youth to provide ongoing sexuality education and support.


 

Good

to

know:

 


Even though high risk youth such as street-involved youth face many challenges, they have several strengths and are hopeful for a better life. It is important to acknowledge and build upon the strengths of these youth (Lokanc-Diluzio, 2014).  In a study of street-involved youth and their service providers (Lokanc-Diluzio, 2014), one youth said,

 

“It’s true, you learn a lot about yourself; your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to depending on yourself… I noticed that I learned a lot about myself when I was homeless because it puts you to the test. It’s like… are you gonna live or [are] you gonna starve or [are] you gonna ask for help? What are you gonna do? …You learn a lot depending on what choice you make…” – Jade, Youth

WHY DEVELOP TASCC?

In 2009, in Calgary, in-depth interviews were conducted with nine street-involved youth and six service providers working with high risk youth. Participants said service providers need more information, resources and support to better assist the youth they work with (Lokanc-Diluzio, 2014). Specifically,

  1. Service providers need knowledge of the sexual and reproductive health issues street-involved youth face, such as
  • Knowledge related to community resources/referrals.
  • Basic knowledge related to pregnancy (awareness and prenatal).
  • Basic knowledge related to STIs and HIV.
  • Basic knowledge related to safer sex and harm reduction (contraception and condoms).
  • Knowledge related to promoting healthy relationships/communication.
  • Knowledge related to substance use and sexual decision-making.
  • Knowledge related to sexual and gender diversity.
  • Basic knowledge related to anatomy and physiology.

 

  1. Service providers want the opportunity to connect with one another.

 

  1. Service providers need accessible and convenient resources and tools (e.g., an “online toolbox”) which includes accurate and user friendly information and teaching aids (Lokanc-Diluzio, 2014).

NAVIGATING TASCC

When you make your way around the website, you will see highlighted some practical tips and strategies to use with youth. You will also see good to know facts that will help you to understand the issues youth experience.

 

Throughout this website, you will also see stories that encourage you to think about how the information can be used in real life. When you read the stories, we encourage you to think about the following:

How did you react to the story?

Why do you think you reacted that way?

How can you best support this person?

Other features of this website include:

Sexuality Topics:

Get the latest information about sexuality topics to use with your youth. Sexuality topics include stories that encourage you to think about how the information can be used with youth. The stories highlight myths and common errors that can lead to misinformation about sexuality and sexual health.

Resources:

The information and web links will help you to find sexual and reproductive health clinical and education resources.

About TASCC:

Learn more about the purpose of the TASCC website and the background to the project. Definitions of commonly used terms and some key theoretical models are explained.

Q & A:

Got a question? Submit your question to the question box or take a look at our collection of frequently asked questions (FAQS).

Upcoming Events:

Workshop and education listings are posted to help you stay up to date with sexual and reproductive health knowledge and resources.

Contact Us:

Use this to email us with questions or feedback related to the TASCC web site.

TIPS FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS

Here are some tips for talking to youth about sexuality:

  • Don’t lecture. Provide factual information without telling them what to do.
  • Use open-ended questions (e.g., how do you feel about…? What do you need from me?).
  • Check your values at the door. Answer questions without judgement.
  • Know where and who to refer youth to.
  • Use examples that de-personalize so that you do not assume or accuse.
  • Use teachable moments (e.g., use a news story as a way to start talking about tough topics).
  • Celebrate success. Let youth know you notice when they do things that show they are being responsible.

REFERENCES

Alberta Health Services. (2011). E-SYS. Enhanced street youth surveillance Edmonton site results (1999-2010). Edmonton AB: Communicable Disease Control, Alberta Health Services.

 

Lokanc-Diluzio, W. (2014). A mixed methods study of service provider capacity development to protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health of street-involved youth:

An evaluation of two training approaches. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from http://hdl.handle.net/11023/1507

 

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). (2008). Canadian guidelines for sexual health education. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cgshe-ldnemss/index-eng.php

 

 

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2006). Street youth in Canada: Findings from enhanced surveillance of Canadian street youth, 1999-2003. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/sti-its-surv-epi/youth-jeunes-eng.php

 

Rotermann, M. (2012). Sexual behaviour and condom use of 15- to 24-year-olds in 2003 and 2009/2010. Health Reports, 23(1).