04/10/2015 01:13 EDT | Updated 06/10/2015 02:59 EDT

Majority of B.C. youth say they are not sexually active

A new report has found kids between grades 7 to 12 are less likely these days to have sex than those five to ten years ago and a majority of youth in that age group are not sexually active.

The findings are from a report released Thursday by the McCreary Centre Society, which examined youth sexual health across the province.  The results are based on a 2013 B.C. Adolescent Health survey that interviewed almost 30,000 students in Grades 7-12.

"Less youth are sexually active than five years ago and ten years ago when we look at previous survey results," said Annie Smith, executive director of the McCreary Centre Society.

Smith says it always surprises youth when she shares these results with them at workshops.

"They'll often say, 'I thought it was only me who wasn't having sex, I thought everybody else was doing it and I was the one who wasn't.'"

Smith says the drop in rates of youth sexual activity can be attributed to increased education and youth being more connected to family and school. 

Among youth who had intercourse, the most common age for first doing so was 15.  The report found that youth who first had sex at age 15 or older engaged in safer sexual practices than those who first had sex at an earlier age.  

"They are more likely to wear a condom, less likely to be mixing alcohol and sex," said Smith.

Almost seventy per cent of youth who engage in sexual activity say they used a contraceptive the last time they had intercourse.

However, only 17 per cent of youth engaging in oral sex reported they used protection.

"I think we really need to educate people about different types of sexual activity, not just intercourse."

While the report noted youth were making safer sexual health choices, there were some findings that raised concerns. .

Factors such as an unstable home life, poverty and violence exposure were associated with poorer sexual health. Additionally, minority groups such as lesbian, gay and bisexual youth reported higher sexual health risks than their peers.

The report recommends increased education about how to negotiate relationships and make informed choices about whether or not to engage in sexual activity.

To listen to the full interview with Annie Smith, click on the audio labelled Youth Sexual Health