Substance use and risky sexual behaviour among adolescents at a tertiary institution and those who are neither studying nor employed in Pietermaritzburg.
Nene, Sabelo Sipho.
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Using quantitative-cross sectional research design, this study investigated the relationship between substance use and risky sexual behaviour among adolescents studying at a tertiary institution and adolescents who are not studying and are also unemployed in Pietermaritzburg. It was hypothesized that adolescents who are neither studying nor employed would engage in substance use and risky sexual behaviour more than their student counterparts as a result of negotiating challenges brought by adolescent stage in face of socio-economic difficulties. Using convenience sampling method, a total of 400 (N) adolescents from both genders, who were within the age range of 18 and 21 were sampled, of the 400, 200 were first year adolescent students from University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, while the other 200 were sampled from adolescents who are not studying and also not employed in Pietermaritzburg Central Business District (CBD), Imbali Township, Northdale and woodlands. A self-administered Risk-Taking Behaviour questionnaire was used as data collection tool. This study found that there were no significant differences between student adolescents and those who are neither studying nor employed in engagement in substance use and risky sexual behaviour. Alcohol was identified as the prime predictor of adolescents’ involvement in risky sexual behaviour. Detailed results showed different patterns of engagement in risk-taking behaviours and how they relate to demographic factors. For example, significantly more males than females have smoked cigarettes and dagga; early age of dagga smoking onset was reported more by females than males. Results of this study highlight the complexity of adolescents’ risk taking behaviours and their multifaceted etiological factors. In essence, findings of this study revealed that adolescents’ substance use and risky sexual behaviour is a reality and they also confirmed that adolescent risk taking behaviour is prevalent and on the rise both locally and globally, regardless of socio-economic or historical background. This study also highlighted the plight of South African adolescents from previously disadvantaged communities who have to negotiate this stage in the face of socio-economic difficulties. More larger qualitative studies on this subject are recommended to document subjective experiences of adolescents’ engagement in risky-behaviours.