Socio-cultural determinants of sexual debut among in-school adolescents in Nyamira county
Background: One’s socialization greatly impacts their sexual behavior. Young people’s understanding of sex is influenced by prescribed social scripts which are learnt from peers, parents, media, among other sources. Nyamira County has the fourth highest burden of teenage pregnancy and motherhood in Kenya, standing at 28% against a national average of 18%. It’s therefore very important to understand the drivers of sexual debut among adolescents in Nyamira County.
Objective: To establish the socio-cultural determinants of sexual debut among in-school adolescents in Nyamira County through the lens of the Social Learning theory.
Design: A mixed method study design employing the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data.
Setting: Mixed day, girls-only boarding and boys-only boarding secondary schools in Nyamira county.
Study participants: These included 400 respondents, 200 males and 200 females, aged 14-18 years from mixed-day secondary schools and single-sex boarding secondary schools. Twenty-four key informants were also interviewed.
Results: Of the 400 students, 61% had ever had sex. More students (63.5%) in mixed day schools had ever had sex compared to single sex schools (58.5%). Gender, age, marital status and coming from polygamous homes were found to be associated with ever having sex. Older sexual partners were seen to provide parental love. Peer pressure was reported by most male students as a driver towards initiating sex, while most female students reported poverty.
Conclusion: Polygamous upbringing, peer pressure and watching pornography came out as strong determinants of sexual debut among in-school adolescents in Nyamira County.