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16 July 2003

Sex hot line calls worry operators

The telephone line to the Oslo Red Cross' sexual information service has been ringing off the hook lately, and the calls are alarming Red Cross workers. Some of the callers are as young as eight, and they're asking detailed and shocking questions.

"There's been a huge increase in specific questions about sex," says Tone Rustad Fagerhaug of the Red Cross. Youngsters are asking about oral sex, anal sex and group sex, and wondering whether it's normal.

"The children have either heard about people who have had such sex, they've read about it or maybe just heard the terms," Fagerhaug said. She thinks they call the Red Cross because they don't dare talk with anyone else.

The majority of callers are young girls, she said, adding that she thinks sexual pressure is greater than ever before.

"I think many are just curious, but some are also scared," Fagerhaug said. "It's disturbing that so many children and youngsters are thinking about these things.

"I think they're being forced into the adult world too early."

She says her staff is careful with its answers and mostly asks where they've heard of such things. "It's a tough balancing act between informing them and registering all this," she said.

Nina Olsen, a nurse in the public health department, said the department's web site also handles questions on sexuality. She blames the media, the Internet and music videos for introducing so many youngsters to sex so early.

"But I doubt they're really doing everything they're talking about," Olsen told newspaper Aftenposten Aften. "I think even the young set some limits."