Study reveals pet hobbies for teens during holidays

It’s time we got age-appropriate and content-specific sexuality education in Kenya. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Although 60 per cent of respondents said they were aware of what safe sex entails, 10 per cent believe it only occurs within marriage.
  • More than half of the teenagers surveyed are also watch pornography, the report says, with boys making up the majority at 62 per cent.

Kenyan teenagers prefer drinking alcohol, watching pornography and engaging in sex during school holidays, says new research.

The study by Trends and Insights For Africa (Tifa) was conducted in secondary schools and shows that students are engaging in sexual activities despite limited information about the consequences and the use of contraceptives.

“Thirty-three percent of the students interviewed have no idea that having unprotected sex once can result in pregnancy,” said Tifa director of strategy Gerry Kweya.

He added that although 60 per cent of respondents said they were aware of what safe sex entails, 10 per cent believe it only occurs within marriage.

Condoms, the report added, are by far the most popular form of contraceptives among secondary school students.

The study, whose results were released on Friday, sampled 1,141 secondary school students in Nairobi and Kiambu counties.

PORNOGRAPHY

The research involved finding out how teenagers in the country perceive leadership and governance, their knowledge on reproductive health and their relationship with their parents, as well as their preferred pastimes.

When asked: “Which of the following activities are you likely to be involved in during the school holiday?”, two thirds of the students said they prefer spending their time at home while 67 per cent said they go to clubs.

Sixty-three per cent said they would visit their boyfriends and girlfriends, while 17 per cent admitted that they would engage in sexual activities.

A quarter of the participants said they had already engaged in sex, most of them when they were above 13 years, while half of the students surveyed said they knew a peer who had engaged in sex. In both instances, there were more boys than girls.

More than half of the teenagers surveyed are also watch pornography, the report says, with boys making up the majority at 62 per cent.

SEX EDUCATION

The participants pointed to media such as films, videos and the internet as their main sources of information on sex.

“Other main sources were teachers. Parents and religious leaders are not mainly considered to be a preferred source of information on sex,” said Mr Kweya.

The report further showed that mothers, more than any other person, were more likely to talk to the teens about sex.

The survey was carried out between January 25 and April 3 this year. Seven schools — three girls’ schools and four boys’ schools — took part. Form Three and Form Four students aged between 15 and 18 years were polled.

A study by the African Population and Health and Research Centre indicated that another risk of teenage sex is abortion.

“There is also evidence that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to severe complications from clandestine unsafe abortions.”

CATALYSTS

The study lists HIV as another risk factor. Young people know about condoms but only a fraction of them know about HIV and Aids.

Some of the factors that lead to teenagers experimenting with sex include exposure to sexual content in media.

Researchers in 2009 found that teenagers who preferred popular songs with degrading sexual references were more likely to engage in intercourse or in pre-coital activities.

Other factors are peer pressure, lack of access to reproductive health services and information and greater access to sexual content through mobile phones.

Also, lack of proper sex education and not being taught about contraception makes them less likely to use them.

SOLUTION

Rev Peter Karanja, the secretary-general of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said these worrying trends can be addressed through parental intervention.

“Parents should spend a little more time with their children to teach them, to correct them and to hold them to account for their actions.

"A system that seems to be working for some families is when one or both parents take some leave days when their children close schools and spend that time with them and instil in them some adult wisdom,” he said.

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