Adults in any community are a potentially important source of sexual health information for young people. Open discussion of sexual health issues is associated with low rates of sexual ill-health. Adults who disapprove of teenage sexual behavior are familiar sources of advice. The study of adult attitudes to young people’s sexual behavior is relevant to improving access to sexual health services.

Adults’ attitudes to young people’s sexual behavior in an urban area with high indices of sexual ill-health were documented.

A total of 283 interviews were completed. Eighty-eight percent of respondents thought that the likely age of first sex among young people was under the age of consent, but only 8% believed that the acceptable age of first intercourse was under 16 years. Knowledge of local services was suboptimal. Less than half suggested a general practitioner, with a similar proportion suggesting an FPC or Brook clinic. 

Adults residents in this area have hostile attitudes to the sexual behavior of local young people and suboptimal knowledge of local contraceptive services. However, they do identify themselves as potentially significant sources of sexual health advice and may benefit from more information and an opportunity to discuss their attitudes.