Sex on school grounds is so rife that parents, pupils and teachers need to sit down often for frank discussions about teenage sexuality, experts say.

This after a schoolgirl at Jules High in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, complained to police she had been gang-raped by fellow pupils last week.

The Western Cape Education Department has since disclosed that five cases of serious sexual misconduct had been recorded at schools this year.

All the pupils involved had been expelled. The schools had recommended to the department that the pupils be expelled.

Clinical sexologist Marlene Wasserman suggested pupils should be taught which sexual behaviour was appropriate at school.

She said sex at schools was “happening all the time”.

There needed to be an increased number of conversations about sex and an acceptance from parents that their children might be sexually active or in abusive relationships.

Wasserman said she often spoke to pupils at schools and during radio shows on various stations.

She said children of school-going age were having sex and were starting to have sex at an increasingly younger age.

A study by loveLife had found 42 percent of 15- to 17-year-old pupils are having sex and 51 percent of children start having sex before they are 15.

She said because this study had been compiled in 2004, it was assumed these figures had increased.

Wasserman said she was not surprised children had been caught having sex on school grounds as there was often no other place available to them.

“Therefore it is natural they would use the schools. Schools should have discussions on reasons why it is inappropriate and teach children to experiment in sexually healthy ways.”

Wasserman said schools should make it clear it was not appropriate to have sex at school and encourage pupils to find other places to express their sexuality safely.

“Something has to be done,” Wasserman said.

Brian Isaacs, principal of South Peninsula High in Diep River, said there needed to be constant dialogue between parents, pupils and the school so that issues around sex were discussed openly and often.

“One is aware, especially at high schools, that young people are growing up and have an attraction for members of the opposite sex.

“It is an ongoing problem in regard of speaking to pupils regularly and to parents.”

He said teachers often spotted pupils holding hands or kissing on school grounds and that was immediately stopped before it “got out of hand”.

Isaacs said the school taught pupils about sex in life orientation classes. Pupils were encouraged to abstain from having sex but taught to use contraceptives if they chose to engage in sexual activity.

A study last year commissioned by Unicef on behalf of the national Education Department found 66 percent of young girls who reported being pregnant said they had not been using contraception.

This outweighed any other reason for falling pregnant, including wanting to have a baby (28 percent), pregnancy as a way of gaining respect (6 percent) and a forced sexual interaction (3 percent).

Despite the statistics that said contraception was not being used, studies had found there was a high level of education among young people about contraception and that contraceptives were widely available.

The study found there was no single “magic bullet” to prevent teenage pregnancy.

“What is required is comprehensive approaches within the home, the school, the community, the healthcare setting and at a structural level.”

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