KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — About 7 per cent of Malaysians aged 13 to 17 have already had intercourse, according to a newly released Health Ministry survey.
The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2017: Key Findings from the Adolescent Health and Nutrition Surveys found that out of the 7.3 per cent of teens who have had sex, 35 per cent of boys and 27 per cent of girls have had sex before the age of 14. The legal age for sex in Malaysia is 16 under the Penal Code, but it’s an offence to have sex below the age of 18 under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
Out of that 7.3 per cent, 21 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls were having multiple sexual partners, according to the survey on Malaysian secondary school students. But only 6 per cent and 5 per cent of boys and girls respectively surveyed said they were currently still having sex.
The prevalence of teens ever having had sex was highest in Pahang at 9.5 per cent and lowest in Kuala Lumpur at 4.3 per cent.
The highest prevalence of having had sexual intercourse was among 13-year-old Form 1 students at 9.3 per cent, followed by Form 4 students (7.3 per cent), Form 2 and Form 5 at 6.9 per cent, and Form 3 at 6.1 per cent.
Among the adolescents surveyed who reported having had sex, only 12 per cent of respondents said they used condoms. More girls reported condom usage in their sexual relations at 16 per cent, compared to 9 per cent among boys.
Among Form 1 students who have had sex, 17 per cent said they used condoms.
Kelantan recorded the highest prevalence for condom use among Malaysian school students at 22.2 per cent, compared to the lowest prevalence for condom use in Putrajaya at 3.2 per cent. Kelantan also similarly reported the highest prevalence for use of other birth control methods besides condoms among Malaysian school students at 14.9 per cent, compared to the lowest rate of 8.1 per cent in Johor.
Among those surveyed who have had sex, only 10 per cent said they used other forms of birth control besides condoms, with 12 per cent and 7 per cent reported among boys and girls respectively.
Teen Smoking Rate At 10%
One out of 10 in Form 1 to Form 5 students in Malaysia smoked cigarettes, according to the survey. Boys had a higher smoking prevalence at 22 per cent, compared to girls at 5 per cent.
Prevalence of current cigarette smoking by ethnicity was highest for Bumiputera Sarawak at 22.2 per cent, followed by Bumiputera Sabah (19.8 per cent), others (17.9 per cent), Indians (15 per cent), Malays (14.1 per cent), and Chinese (7 per cent).
Labuan recorded the highest prevalence in current cigarette smoking at 19.2 per cent, while Putrajaya reported the lowest at 7.8 per cent.
Sixteen-year-old Form 4 students reported the highest prevalence of current cigarette smoking at 15.3 per cent, followed by Form 3 students (14.3 per cent), Form 5 students (14.1 per cent), Form 1 students (12.8 per cent), and Form 2 students (12.6 per cent).
Teen Drinking Rate At 10%
According to the NHMS, about 10 per cent of Malaysian adolescents were current drinkers, while 76 per cent sipped their first alcoholic beverage before turning 14.
About one in five students had ever consumed alcohol.
Family members were the biggest source of alcohol for teens who drank, at 38 per cent, followed by stores (27 per cent), and friends (17 per cent). Nine per cent of respondents who drank said they gave someone else money to purchase alcoholic beverages for them, followed by 8 per cent who mentioned “some other way”, and 2 per cent who stole.
The legal drinking age in Malaysia is 21.
Less Than 5% Of Teens Currently Using Drugs
The NHMS reported that one in 25 secondary school students in Malaysia claimed to have ever used drugs, while 3.4 per cent said they were current drug users.
Illicit drug use among Malaysian adolescents rose from 1.7 per cent in 2012 to 4.3 per cent in 2014, before dropping to 4 per cent in 2017, in relation to those who have ever tried drugs.
The percentage of current drug users among Malaysian teens rose from 1.5 per cent in 2012 to 3.4 per cent in 2014, remaining at the same level in 2017.
Drugs in the survey were defined as taking heroin, morphine, amphetamines or methamphetamines (ecstasy, syabu, ice), and marijuana or ganja (except prescribed medicine).
A total of 17 per cent of respondents initiated drug use at the tender age of seven or younger. On the type of drugs taken, 2.4 per cent said they had taken amphetamines or methamphetamines, while 2.8 per cent have tried marijuana.
About a quarter, of 25.9 per cent, of those who took drugs said they bought the narcotics from someone, followed by getting someone to buy it for them (13.3 per cent), and stealing them (14 per cent).
The NHMS was conducted in 2017 among teens aged 13 to 17 via anonymous questionnaires that were distributed among 30,496 students from 212 randomly selected secondary schools, with an 89.2 per cent response rate.