| Needs and Concerns of Adolescents
Developing an identity
Self-awareness helps adolescents understand themselves and establish their personal identity. However, as is customary, they are not able to effectively explore their potential and establish a positive image.
Adolescent girls are groomed for stereotype gender roles. Boys build their 'egos' to assume masculine roles.
Suffering in silence
is seen as a virtue among women and girls.
Exposure and mobility helps them to dream and have aspirations. However,
restricted mobility, especially for girls, limits their choices and
Provide adolescents opportunities to understand themselves to fulfill
Adolescents have frequent mood changes reflecting feelings of anger, sadness, happiness, fear, shame, guilt, and love. Very often, they are unable to understand the emotional turmoil.
Sex hormones secreted during puberty affect changes in sexual and emotional behaviour. Lack of knowledge regarding bodily and emotional change causes stress.
They do not have a supportive environment in order to share their
concerns with others. Counseling facilities are not available.
Make adolescents comfortable while sharing their concerns with
others. Build coping skills to help them deal with their emotions.
As a part of growing up, adolescents redefine their relationships with parents, peers and members of the opposite sex. Adults have high expectations from them and do not understand their feeling.
Adults do not respect their right to choose with dignity and participate in decision-making processes.
Adolescents need social skills for building positive relationships
with others. Mutual attraction between boys and girls in common but
societal pressures do not allow them to meet members of the opposite
sex freely and establish healthy relationships based on respect and
Enable them to develop their thinking skills (critical thinking)
to understand boundaries that may be physical or emotional, within relationships.
Resisting peer group pressure
Adolescents find it difficult to resist peer pressure. Influence of friends sometimes leads them to experiment with risky sexual behaviour resulting in life long consequences.
Abuse of alcohol, opium and cannabis had been known for long but the consumption of drugs like heroin and hashish is a new trend. The peer group, with pressure for conformity, introduces drugs with smoking to being with, switching to hard drugs later.
Studies have reported that drug peddlers push street children and
youth from lower socio-economic status into drug abuse in the form of
wages for work. Twenty one percent of 40,000 male users studied in a
household survey were in the age group 12-18 years (NUODC 2003).
The risk of contracting HIV and getting involved in anti-social behaviour are serious consequences of drug abuse.
Build negotiation skills of adolescents not only to resist negative peer pressure but also to influence others to be involved in constructive action and positive behaviour.
Understanding the process of growing up
Adolescence is a critical stage of growth and development. During this time, adolescents go through rapid physiological and hormonal changes leading to maturity and sexual development. Very often they do not understand these changes and get emotionally stressed.
Misconceptions about masturbation and nocturnal emissions cause stress. Social norms and inability to share their concerns with others make it even more stressful.
Myths and misconceptions related to menstruation affect the social behaviour of girls.
Importance of genital hygiene is not emphasized leading to reproductive
Enhance their understanding of the physical and emotional changes. Develop
a scientific attitude to remove myths and misconceptions.
Acquiring information and education on sexual and reproductive
Adolescents want sexuality education, but there is resistance from adults in the family and community.
In the absence of communication between adolescents and parents, adolescents seek information from their peer group who are also ill informed.
Teachers feel inhibited to discuss issues frankly, sensitively and interestingly.
Adolescents have limited knowledge of contraceptive use. They do
not anticipate the consequences of non-use. They lack confidence and
the motivation to use contraceptives and are embarrassed to find out
how to use them. They also lack skills to gather information on its
Equip adolescents with information, education and skills for behaviour
that is responsible towards self and others.
The period growth that occurs in adolescents places extra demand on
nutritional requirements. During this period, more than 20 percent of
total growth in stature and up to 50 percent of adult bone mass is achieved
resulting in 50 percent increase in calcium requirements. However, data
shows that intake of nutrients is less than the recommended daily allowances
for both boys and girls in rural areas (NNMB, 2001).
Adolescent girls have additional 15 percent requirement of iron to compensate for menstrual blood loss. Nearly 50 percent of girls are anemic.
Gender discrimination results in malnutrition of girls. In terms
of good intake, they are worse off than their bothers.
Bring about an attitudinal change to ensure that nutritional
needs of adolescents, especially girls are adequately met.
Girls are forced into early marriage and have very little say in selecting their marriage partners.
Early marriage has far reaching consequences in terms of their development, fertility rate and reproductive health.
Marriage curtails education and alters their choice of careers.
Take action for advocacy, promotion of girls' education and
stricter enforcement of legal age of marriage.
Avoiding unwanted pregnancy
Early marriage pushes girls into early childbearing and they do not
have children by choice. Risks include hemorrhage, anemia, delayed or
obstructed labor, low birth weight of the baby, miscarriage, damage
to the reproductive tract and in some cases, even death of the mother.
For unmarried mothers, there is social stigma.
Teenage parents lack experience, skills and resources needed to raise
Empower adolescents to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies
and to enjoy the right to safety and security.
Accessing health services
Boys are reluctant to seek information and treatment if they suffer from sexually transmitted infections, as it would mean admitting ignorance and indulging in high-risk behaviour. They are embarrassed to seek medical services and are not assertive enough to get their needs met.
Limited mobility of girls restricts their access to information and services on reproductive health.
Attitude of health service providers towards unmarried adolescents is not positive regarding contraceptives and services.
Lack of confidentiality is an obstacle in accessing health services
as adolescents are reluctant to share information related to their sexual
Make health services adolescent-friendly and accessible.
Vulnerability to risky behaviour
Cultural values characterize men as independent, dominant, and aggressive, compelling boys to take risks in their sexual activities.
Adolescents are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS because of their high-risk behaviour and greater biological susceptibility to certain STIs. The younger the girl, the more the risk, especially if she is forced into her first sexual intercourse.
Adolescents living on the streets are vulnerable to high risk.
Adolescents who are sexually active fall prey to risky behaviour.
Prevalence of premarital sex is increasing. The fallouts of risky behaviour
are: early , high-risk pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and
Reduce vulnerability of adolescents to risky behaviour and
enhance their life skills to make responsible decisions.
Resisting sexual exploitation and reporting gender based violence
Crimes are rarely registered and conviction rates are very low reflecting the poor performance of prosecution in bringing the guilty to book.
There are hardly any support services that deal with the physical injuries and mental trauma of victims of sexual violence.
Strengthen support services to help the traumatized victims. Sensitize personnel involved in apprehension, prosecution and hastening of trails of victims.