TEENAGERS SHOULD mark Valentine's Day with a special meal only, not sex, the Moral Promotion Centre says.
The "Just a Meal for Valentine" campaign was launched with the |aim of stopping teenagers from getting too intimate and engaging in premature sex on the day widely linked with romance.
Thailand, at present, is ranked 15th in Asia and 5th in Southeast Asia when it comes to teenage pregnancies.
"Available information suggests that 83 per cent of Thai teenagers plan to have sex on Valentine's Day," Moral Promotion Centre's director-general Sin Suesuan said at the launch of the campaign yesterday.
"If they hang out in secluded areas after a meal, there is a possibility that they will opt for sex," he said.
Of this number, 54.9 per cent are university students and 27.8 per cent are in secondary school.
According to Sin, premature sex can lead to many problems, such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted diseases.
He put these problems partially down to easy access to dating apps and websites.
"We have discovered that sexually suggestive conversations are conducted in chat programmes," he said, adding that news reports over the past three years have indicated that many teenagers faced sexual abuse after arranging face-to-face meetings with online friends.
His centre is also advising teenagers to avoid making their phone numbers, e-mails and their home addresses public on dating platforms.
Aware of the influence of social media, Sin is also calling on teenagers to post "Just a Meal for Valentine" on their Facebook pages this year.
Meanwhile, Mental Health Department's deputy director general Panpimol Wipulakorn told a recent seminar that as many as 75 out 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19 get pregnant in Bangkok and other areas.
"This is high given that the standard level is around 50 per 1,000 females," she said. Across Thailand, the ratio stands at around 52:1,000.
Panpimol said many pregnant teenagers were found to have opted for sex due to the situation they were in at the time.
"Some 30 per cent were found to have been willing, while up to 5 per cent were forced," she said.
Also, she said 50 per cent of teenagers with unwanted pregnancies opt for an abortion at unlicensed facilities and face the risk of womb infection.
"That can lead to serious health problems and even death," she warned.
Panpimol said all relevant parties should address the issue of teenage sex by offering proper counselling and education.