The Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Very Young Adolescents Aged 10–14 in Developing Countries: What Does the Evidence Show?
- This report draws on analyses of national survey data and literature review results to provide an overview of the evidence on key aspects of sexual and reproductive health among very young adolescents aged 10–14 living in developing regions.
- Early adolescence is a period of rapid physical, social, emotional and cognitive changes. As such, it is a critical time to lay the foundation for positive sexual and reproductive health outcomes.
- Many developing countries have national policies and curricula that support comprehensive sex education (CSE) in primary schools; however, available data tell us little about the extent to which 10–14-year-olds are actually receiving CSE, or about the quality of such education.
- While most very young adolescents report that they have never experienced sexual intercourse, some have begun to explore intimate relationships and to engage in noncoital sexual activities, such as kissing, hugging, fondling, and oral and anal sex.
- For many, first sexual intercourse happens as a result of coercion or violence. Between 3% and 23% of adolescent females aged 13–17 report experience of sexual violence in the past year; it is 0–13% among adolescent males.
- The proportion of adolescent females married before age 15 varies by country—from less than 1% to 24%—as well as by region, residence and wealth.
- Very young adolescent females had an estimated 777,000 births in 2016; 58% of these births took place in Africa, 28% in Asia and 14% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Slightly more than one-third of births to mothers younger than 15 in developing countries were unplanned.
- Delivering CSE, continuing to reduce levels of child marriage and sexual violence, emphasizing equitable gender norms, and providing financial incentives in education are some examples of strategies to support sexual and reproductive health among this age-group.