Adolescents comprise a sizeable population - There are 225 million adolescents comprising nearly one-fifth (22 percent) of the total population (Census 2001).
Profile of Adolescents in India
Composition varies by age and sex - Of the total adolescent population, 12 percent belong to 10-14 age groups and nearly 10 percent are in the 15-19 age groups. Female adolescents comprise almost 47 percent and male adolescents 53 percent of the total population. The sex ration among 10-19 years is 882 females for 1000 males, lower than the overall sex ratio of 933. it is 902 for younger adolescents aged 10-14 years and 858 for older adolescents aged 15-19 years (Census 2001).
Early marriage is common - Mean age at marriage for females is 18 years and males 22.6 years. However, more that half (51 percent) of the illiterate currently married females are married below the legal age at marriage. Nearly 20 percent of the 1.5 million girls married under the age of 15 years are already mothers (Census 2001). Age at marriage for females is influenced only when the population is matriculate / secondary and above.
Female mortality is a cause of concern - Gender differentials is mortality rates exist during adolescence. Female mortality rates are higher as compared to males during 15-24 years. Mortality in female adolescents of 15-19 is higher than adolescents 10-14 years. The pervasiveness of discrimination, lower nutritional status, early marriage and complications during pregnancy and childbirth among adolescents contribute to female mortality (CSO 2002, SRS 1999).
Adolescents from rural areas and girls are disadvantaged in education - Twenty five percent of the 15-19 years age group in rural areas and 10 percent in urban areas are illiterate. The male-female differences grow with each level of education (NSSO 55th Round, 2001). Enrollment figures in schools have improved, but gender disparities persist. Girls account for less than 50 percent enrollment at all stages of schooling. Rural girls are most disadvantaged. The challenge is to keep students in schools. The dropout rate from class 1 to X is around 68 percent.
Economic compulsions force many to work - Nearly one out of three adolescents in 15-19 years is working - 21 percent as main worker and twelve percent as marginal workers (Census 2001). Economic compulsions force adolescents to participate in the workforce resulting in high dropout rate for education. Despite adult unemployment, employers like to engage children and adolescents because of cheap labour.
Malnutrition affect development - Intake of nutrients is less than the recommended daily allowances for adolescents below the age of 18 years both for boys and girls in rural India (NNMB 2001). More than 70 percent girls in the age group of 10-19 years suffer from severe or moderate anaemia (DLHS-RCH 2004). Adolescent mothers are at a higher risk of miscarriages, maternal mortality and giving birth to stillborn and underweight babies. Iodine Deficiency Disorders can lead to growth retardation and retard mental development. Only half of the households are using Iodized salt for cooking in India (MICS 2000)
Drug abuse in emerging as a problem - Twenty four percent of the drug users were in the age group of 12-18 years. The subjects in the treatment enters reported the about 11 percent were introduced to cannabis before the age of 15 years, and about 26 percent between the age of 16 and 20 years. (UNODC and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, 2004). Social factors such as illiteracy, economic background, unemployment, and family disharmony increase vulnerability to drug abuse.
Crimes against adolescents are prevalent - Crimes against girls range from eve teasing to abduction, rape, prostitution and violence to sexual harassment. Most rape victims are in the age group of 14-18 years. In 82 percent of rape cases, the victims knew the offenders and 32 percent were neighbors (NCRB 2001). Unfortunately, social taboos prevent these crimes from being registered. Even when registered, prosecution rarely takes place. In case of sexual abuse of boys (12-17 years), they are mainly victims of homosexual abuse.
Delinquent behaviour is increasing - Incidences of vagrancy, delinquency, alcoholism, drug addiction, truancy, and crime amongst adolescents have seen a sharp increase in the last few years. Boys outnumber girls and most of them are illiterate of have studied upto the primary stage (41 percent primary, 29 percent illiterate); a large number are school dropouts (NCRB 2003).
Unmet need for contraceptives - Age specific fertility rate in the age group of 15-19 years contributes to 19 percent of the total fertility rate. Amongst currently married women, the unmet need of contraception is the highest in the age group 15-19 years. Nearly 27 percent of married female adolescents have reported unmet need for contraception (NFHS-2).
Trafficking need for contraceptives - Extreme poverty, low status of women and complacency of law enforcing agencies has led to an increase in sex work. Expansion of trafficking and clandestine movement of young girls has also increased across national and international borders.
Premarital sexual relation is increasing - Most sexually active adolescents are in their late adolescence. Increase in age at marriage, increased mobility and negative peer pressure makes the young people vulnerable to indulging in unsafe sexual behaviour.
Disability in adolescents is being recognized - Disability was reported among 1.99 percent of the adolescents in the 10-19 age groups. Among the disabled adolescents, 40 percent reported visual disability and nearly one third (33 percent) reported movement disability. Males generally reported a higher percentage of the disability than the females (Census 2001).
Census 2001. Office of the Registrar General India; CSO. 2002. Women and Men in India; DLHS-RCH (District Level Health Survey - Reproductive and Child Health) 2002. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; IIPS and ORC Macro. 2000. National Family Health Survey 1998-99; MICS (Multiple Indicator Survey). 2001. DWCD. GOI and UNICEF; NACO and UNICEF, 2001. Knowledge, attitudes and practices of young adults (15-24 years); NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) 2001. Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI; NNMB (National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau) 2001; NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) 2001. 55th Round; SRS (Sample Registration System Statistical Report) 1999. Registrar General, India; UNODC and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, 2004. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse in India.