The 3 Main Social Determinants Of Youth Sexual Behavior

Posted by

When designing an international programme on sexuality, there are certain basic principles of health that don’t change regardless of the part of the world you travel. A young person’s social environment, from their home, to school, to place of work, to their neighborhoods and communities will have some form of impact on their sexuality. These are what are commonly referred to as social determinants.

These social determinants which include both socio-economic and environmental factors have been known to influence the sexual behavior, wellbeing as well as development of young people globally. This therefore means that any interventions designed to address youth sexuality will not be successful when implemented on their own. Instead, an international programme on sexuality must employ a holistic approach targeted at improving reproductive health outcomes for young people through addressing social determinants of health, including but not limited to access to quality education, healthcare, economic and job opportunities.

We take a look at the 3 main social determinants of youth sexual behavior that should be priority areas.

The challenge of economic empowerment

Whether you travel to the developed or under developed part of the world, the challenge of economic empowerment is a major contributor to youth sexual behavior. Transactional sex is one of the main contributors of HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancies among young people around the world. Transactional sex is not necessarily sex for money alone, but rather sex in exchange for something of economic value. Many youth have been known to use sex as a way of acquiring things they want, things that mostly have an economic value. The way to mitigate this is to include aspects of economic empowerment in interventions, to address this problem.

Academic and career mentorship

Quality education has been proven to be a positive determinant to the sexual wellbeing of youth both in school and out of school in any part of the world. As a matter of fact, studies indicate risky sexual behavior can be directly linked to a person’s level of education. Most young people who complete their cycle of education are at a much lower risk of exposure to risky sexual behavior as opposed to those who drop out of school. As part of addressing youth sexuality, it’s therefore imperative to have interventions focused on academic and career mentorship of young people so as to improve their decision making on their life choices.

Leadership and Governance

There is a need to continuously sensitize young people, their parents, their local communities, religious leaders as well as governments around the world on the benefits of good leadership and responsive citizenship. This is a component that needs to be a part of any intervention on youth sexuality because a citizenry that is in touch with how their government functions for instance the budget making processes, development planning, and so on will be much better placed to participate in advocacy initiatives aimed at addressing their own problems which include better resource allocation and policy to address young people’s sexual health and wellbeing.

Designing solutions to address these 3 determinants will be a major coup in the fight to improve young people’s sexual behavior.

We invite you to share with us your experiences on youth and sexuality. Let’s join hands to transform the lives of our youth.