Sex and dating come in the same package for more than one-third of the city's troubled young people, a survey of at-risk youths has shown.
Some 28 per cent of the respondents to the Federation of Youth Groups' survey, who were aged 10 to 24, said they would consider having sex with a minor. Close to 20 per cent of respondents admit having done so.
Roughly 60 per cent of the 270 young people questioned on their attitudes to and understanding of safe sex, relationships and dating are studying in Forms One to Three at secondary school.
Over 32 per cent of those aged between 10 and 15 said "sex is an expected part of a dating relationship", with 20 per cent admitting they'd had sex before. More than 47 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 agreed with the statement, and more than 55 per cent have had sex.
"Not only are they more open towards sex, these youths also have lots of misconceptions about sex and relationships," said Wilson Chan Man-ho from the federation.
Keelie Cheung Ming-shan, a frontline youth worker with the organisation, said she knew a 14-year-old girl who lost her virginity at 13 and would have sex with different people because she saw it as a mutual "take-what-you-need" scenario.
Sex has become a means to fulfil youngsters' need for care and love, Chan says. The survey indicated that happiness, finding someone to care for them or to care for and having companionship are the main reasons for youngsters to date and have sex.
"Family problems have driven young people to look elsewhere for what they should find at home," said Stanislaus Lai Ding-kei, a professor of applied social sciences at City University. "What is necessary is sex education - but not just teaching children about the physical act of sex, but of relationship, love and companionship."
The federation has designed a creative board game intended to teach youngsters about the dangers of unprotected sex, including sexually transmitted diseases, and about criminal offences such as sex with a minor.
"Young people need guidance on the topic. At-risk youths' sexual problems are more serious than others, because they are more marginalised," Chan said.