Only 15% of Zim parents discuss sex education with adolescents – study

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By Alois Vinga

A paltry 15% of parents in Zimbabwe are discussing sex education with their adolescent children leaving a vacuum which has increased the age group’s vulnerability to early pregnancies, a latest report prepared by the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS (CeSHHAR) has established.

The study titled, National Assessment on Adolescent Pregnancies in Zimbabwe established that Adolescent pregnancy prevalence was 24 for adolescents aged between 10 -19 years. Among the 337 pregnant adolescents, 4.0% (20) had disabilities.

The analysis of adolescent pregnancy prevalence showed that 0.9% of 10–14-year-olds (4/567) and 41.2% of 15–19-year-olds (333/851) were pregnant with the prevalence of pregnancy differing significantly between the two age groups, with older adolescents (15-19 years old) being 71,2 times more likely to be pregnant than very young adolescents (10–14-year-olds).

However, the study establishes that the culture of parents shying away from frank discussions on sex education with their adolescents is chief among the causes of escalating teenage pregnancies.

“Quantitative findings confirmed limited parent-child communication in several domains including abstinence, sex and sexuality and pregnancy across sub-groups. Only 15% (66) of the sexually active adolescents self-reported ever discussing sex and sexuality with their parents or caregivers, while 85% (364) had never discussed these topics with their parents,” said the study.

Among those not sexually active, only 7% (69) self-reported ever discussing sex and sexuality with parents compared to 93% (919) who have not.

Discussions on pregnancy prevention were also very limited among both groups with only 28% (119) of the sexually active adolescents reporting ever discussed pregnancy prevention compared to 72% (311) who had never discussed it.

“Limited parent-child communication on sex and sexuality The absence of parents in the home at a convenient time also impacted parent-child communication on sex and sexuality.

“Although the interviewed parents/caregivers acknowledged the information gaps on SRHR issues among adolescents and young people, they still strongly feel that talking about sex and sexuality or contraceptives at home would inadvertently promote sexual activity, making parent-child communication on sex and sexuality off-limits,” said the report.

It was also established that although parents/caregivers felt that it was important to prevent adolescent pregnancy, they were not keen to engage in pregnancy prevention discussions with their children.