Documenting adolescent sexual and reproductive practices, and exploring perceptions of the impact of child support grant : a case of Durban.
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Teenage childbearing has been a cause for concern in South Africa. A number of studies claim that early childbearing has been increasing, while other studies indicate that say it has remained constant. Despite lack of consensus on the trend, there is agreement that the levels are high. The Reproductive Health Research Unit (2003) survey reported that close to 15 percent of teenage women become pregnant between the ages of 15 to 19 years. Teenage childbearing has raised major concerns for government, researchers and communities (Cherry et al, 2001). Researchers have identified a number of factors which contribute to teenage childbearing. Lately, there has been an ongoing debate about the introduction of social security system (Child Support Grants), which is meant to assist in alleviating child poverty. Some argued that Child Support Grants has contributed in high pregnancies among teenagers. However, the research on the relationship between Child Support Grants and teenage childbearing has not been consistent. This study explored sexual and reproductive patterns observed among teenagers. The focus was on understanding experiences of school going adolescents. The study also aimed to establish the environment surrounding childbearing in schools and the perception of child support grants through interviewing key informants and teenagers themselves. In summary, the study collected qualitative and qualtitative information from teenagers and teachers in schools, and from teenagers collecting CSG from paypoints. Findings from this sudy indicate that sexual practices among teenagers are complex. Teenagers are aware of the negative effects around early sexual initiation and childbearing support. However despite of this awareness, the study shows that more than half (52.7 percent) of teenagers become sexually at an early age more males (53.7 percent) than females (46.3 percent) were sexual active. Of the sexually active teenagers, findings show that 26.7 percent had their first sexual intercourse at the age of 15 years, 22.0 percent at 14 years, and 16.8 percent at the age of 16 years. The median age at sexual debut for both males and females was 14 years. While, teenagers without children were most likely to report that teenage mothers are having children to receive CSG, but teenage mothers did not confirm this. It was also interesting to discover that more males than females believed that teenagers take advantage of CSGs. However, indings clearly indicate that there are mixed perceptions with regard to impact of CSG on teen childbearing.