Adolescents urged to take charge of Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The appeal came from Acting Director, Social Policy, Planning and Research Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Easton Williams, at a World Population Day symposium held on July 11 at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.

Mr. Williams warned that untimed pregnancies are often a “poverty trap” for many poor adolescents and youths, especially girls, which can often ruin their social, academic and economic growth and development.

He encouraged young people to wait before having sex and instead, make their academic pursuits their first priority.  “Put your priorities straight and empower yourself for the future. Education is the key…sex will come and you will be glad that you waited. You won’t die if you don’t have sex,” he remarked.

He also emphasised the importance of young people having correct knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, including the proper use of contraceptives and advised youths to, “get guidance from someone who is responsible, not from your peers because, most of the times, they don’t know”.

Mr. Williams said sexual behaviour among Jamaican youth is quite high, with the average age for first sexual experience being about 14 years for boys and 15.5 years for girls.

The use of contraceptives at first sexual intercourse for adolescents is very low, he said, posing the risk of high levels of pregnancy and STIs. Mr. Williams said the rate of STI transmission among adolescent girls is about three or four times higher than adolescent boys.