Adolescent health: reassessing the passage of adulthood, by Judith Senderowitz

By Judith Senderowitz

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By Judith Senderowitz

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Knowledge of Sexuality and Contraception Knowledge of reproductive information, commonly assessed by measuring knowledge of a woman's fertile (or safe) period and ability to identify contraceptive methods, varies among developing regions and among groups of young people. 3 percent of those age 1524 could do so (CDC 1991). Recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) found that young people did much better in identifying contraceptive methods (figure 1). Surveys in Latin America and the Caribbean found that at least 90 percent of women age 1519 in Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic had knowledge of the pill, and more than 50 percent in all other countries surveyed except Guatemala.

In a majority of African countries, and in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Mexico, more than two-thirds of women with no education experience a birth by age 20. But for women with seven or more years of education, the proportion giving birth before age 20 drops significantly. 6 percent (UN 1989). Urban residence also exerts a downward effect on fertility; fertility rates among teens in rural areas of Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are 82121 percent higher than the rates among teens in urban areas (Singh and Wulf 1990).

This might explain the findings of another Kenyan study. This study showed that, while 68 percent of the study population had received information on reproductive health from school, friends, and same-sex relatives, in that order, fewer than 50 percent knew that pregnancy could occur at first intercourse, in the absence of a female orgasm, or with withdrawal (Ajayi and others 1991). A study in Santiago, Chile, also identified young people as a main source of information: 36 percent of women age 1524 sought sexual advice and information from peers and siblings (Dietz 1990).

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