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 Post subject: Sri Lankan teenagers have positive attitudes about future
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:39 pm 
Majority of Sri Lankan teenagers (14-19) have positive attitudes about their future

Major Report on Sri Lanka’s Adolescents Launched


@- Asian Tribune -

Colombo, 16 July, 2005 (Asiantribune.com): A majority of Sri Lankan teenagers (14-19) have positive attitudes about their future, according to a joint survey conducted the Ministries of Health and Education together with UNICEF. The report titled “Emerging Issues among Adolescents in Sri Lanka” states that 1 in every 5 is an adolescent and there are over 3.7 million adolescents in Sri Lanka.

A UNICEF media release states: “The survey found that there was a lot of adolescents have a positive outlook on their families and for their futures. The majority of school-going adolescents perceived their families as intimate and close (60%), and considered the family as a refuge for a problem. For a significant proportion their hero was a family member.

It is also important to note that 60% of adolescents positively concluded that their life is generally happy.”

The current challenges faced by this group ranges from the impact of terrorism and violence, migration of parents, disintegration of the extended family, social isolation, uncensored media exposure, highly competitive education system, limited opportunities and high unemployment, and inadequate information on sexual behaviour and substance abuse. The report also highlighted the problem of sexual abuse for a significant minority of adolescents.

According to the media release, the new findings have provided a wealth of information on the major issues affecting this country’s young people. A consistent finding has been that Sri Lanka’s adolescents need access to information about the dangers of alcohol and smoking, information about their bodies and how they work, and information about how to prevent HIV/AIDS, as currently they are still unaware of the many risks that they face in these areas.

“Young people are on the verge of becoming adults, and they need to be equipped with the right knowledge to be able to make informed choices about their futures and to understand the consequences of their actions,” said Mr. Chaiban. “Without this, young people are being left vulnerable at a time when they are more likely to experiment and take risks.

“The fact that so many of the country’s young people feel confident in the future and that they can rely on their friends and family is a wonderful starting point for reaching out to adolescents. Through these channels, as well as through the health and education systems, we can empower young people with the information they need to make healthy, educated choices to protect themselves,” added Mr. Chaiban.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

* Family, social and environmental factors affecting mental wellbeing – 60% of adolescents positively concluded that their life is generally happy. The majority of school-going adolescents perceived their families as intimate and close (60%), and considered the family as a refuge for a problem. Nearly 75% of adolescents thought they could depend on their families and said that they would love to spend time with their families.

* Use of tobacco, alcohol and other addictive substances – The number of adolescents currently smoking was found to be quite low. On average, most adolescents started their smoking and use of alcohol and other illicit substances around 14- 15 years of age. The most cited reason was curiosity and the first smoke or drink was most frequently tried in the company of friends. Nearly a quarter (24%) of adolescent school boys and 10% of adolescent school girls had used alcohol at sometime during their lives. The percentage of out of school adolescents who had used alcohol was 34%.

* Confidence – Roughly 87% of out-of-school adolescents were either very or somewhat confident about their ability to face problems that may occur in the future. Similarly, another 87% of out-of-school adolescents felt very or somewhat confident about having a bright future.

* Knowledge on reproductive health, STDs and HIV/AIDS – More than 70% of the 10 – 13 year olds surveyed are not aware of the basic physiological changes and processes that were taking place in their own bodies. Knowledge of 14-19 year olds on matters related to reproduction is also very limited. Less than 25% of adolescents have satisfactory knowledge of conception and signs of pregnancy, but this improved among out of school young people. Only 57% of adolescents were aware of the existence of sexually transmitted diseases in general. Fifty nine per cent were aware of HIV /AIDS. The knowledge of out of school adolescents on HIV/AIDS and STDs was marginally higher compared to those in schools reflecting a knowledge transfer through community channels.

* Sexual abuse:About 10% of early school-going adolescents and 14% of mid and late school-going adolescents indicated they had been sexually abused sometime in their lives. More boys (14%) than girls (8%) were abused during early adolescence while there was no gender difference seen in the proportions having been abused during mid and late adolescence. About 10% of out of school adolescents reported abuse.

- Asian Tribune -


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