strategy

Providing reproductive health counselling for adolescents

Synonyms:
Supplying family planning services to young people
Advising against premature sexual intercourse
Counselling children on sex
Description:
Provision of free or affordable services which offer non-censure of users, choice of methods, sympathetic well trained providers, involvement of local young people, peer education and confidentiality.
Context:
Of the hundreds of millions of sexually active adolescents in the world, only a few have access to good quality information, advice, contraceptives or health care. In many societies, providing youngsters with education on sexuality and reproductive health is a delicate subject; many family planning programmes are restricted to married couples. Under communism, family planning was severely limited even to married couples. In the former Soviet Union, abortion was often the only service provided: teenagers had no services at all. In Poland and most other countries sexual education is still completely lacking. The Romanian and Russian family planning associations have started providing special services for young people.
Implementation:
The Netherlands has the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the world with only 10 per 1,000 teenage women, because sexual education, confidential information, advice and services are readily available to all teenagers. (The rate in England and Wales is 69 per 1,000, the USA 114 per 1,000, between one half and two third of which end in abortion).

Multi-service youth centres in Guatemala, Guyana, Grenada, Panama and Peru offer cultural, recreational, health and educational activities. They attract young people who would not come to conventional family planning clinics. Telephone hotlines, such as those in Brazil and Guatemala, provide information and referrals and are especially effective in reaching young men. [Sahabat Remaja] (Friends of Youth) provides free counselling services to Indonesian youth through a hotline, mail and personal consultations. The new Ethiopian Youth Programme of the family planning association has provided sexuality and contraceptive information and services for over 10,000 young people, and has reached 65,000 more through a touring drama group. Over the past 10 years, the Japanese family planning association's Open House for adolescents has received over 35,000 telephone calls on sexual and contraceptive problems, and counselled over 8,000 teenage clients. The success of the project lead to the government setting up an adolescent counselling service modelled on it in 20 centres.

Claim:
Good contraceptive and sexual education services, corresponding with the social, cultural and emotional situation of adolescents, and developed with their involvement, can reduce unwanted adolescent pregnancies, abortions and the risk of sexually transmitted disease and HIV infection.
Counter Claim:
Providing juveniles with unrestricted access to contraception and sexual information will encourage sexual activity and promiscuity.
Subjects:
Reproductive system
Infants
Adolescents
Youth
Sex-related questions
Services
Expertise
Purchasing, supplying
Health
Birth control
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies