Assessing teenagers' knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards teenage pregnancy. The case of a Durban High School.
Teenage childbearing is a global social and health concern. South Africa is not spared from the problems of teenage pregnancy be they related to health or to the social sphere. Researchers have been entreated to investigate teenagers’ sexual behaviour and the determinants to their behaviour especially in light of HIV/AIDS and other sexually related diseases. Various programmes and interventions have been developed and implemented in an effort to manage prevalence rates and address the challenges of teenage pregnancy. Inspite of these concerted efforts, pregnancy rates continue to increase. These efforts have been hampered by the absence of the voice of teenagers in research as interventions implemented do not adequately capture the complexity of teenage pregnancy. Research has also divorced teenagers from the environment within which teenage pregnancy takes place and as a result come up with interventions that are not pro teenagers. The absence of teenagers’ input in these interventions results in little uptake of interventions as teenagers feel no ownership or entitlement to these intervention. This study therefore seeks to bridge the gap by addressing teenage pregnancy from the perspective of teenagers themselves and locates teenage pregnancy within the lived experiences of teenagers. Guided by the Social Ecology Model and The Health Belief Model, this study seeks to analyse teenagers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards teenage pregnancy. This study is qualitative in nature and is situated within the interpretive paradigm that enables the researcher to explore people’s lived experiences. Using the case study approach, the study employs focus group discussions to elicit information from participants on their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards teenage pregnancy. The study concludes that knowledge; attitudes and perceptions are influenced and affected by various factors such as peer pressure, lack of adequate information and gender dynamics. To address teenage pregnancy challenges, there is a need for addressing the structural factors that influence teenagers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions. Knowledge on safe sex and contraception abounds though this knowledge does not to translate to positive health affirming behaviour. This gap is attributed to the structural factors that influence and affect health behaviour. As such these factors, such as entrenched poverty and lack of proper sexual health communication need to be addressed if teenage pregnancy is to be managed.
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