Speaking through pictures: canvassing adolescent risk behaviours in a semi-rural community in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
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Adolescent risk behaviours, such as substance abuse and unprotected sex, are leading social and health challenges in South Africa (SA. The objective of the article is to investigate adolescents's perspectives on the prevalence of adolescent risk behaviours in rural settings in SA. Method. Using a qualitative photovoice methodology, the current study explored adolescents's perspectives and experiences of living in a peri-urban community in KwaZulu-Natal Province. KwaZulu-Natal is the epicentre of the South African HIV epidemic, and adolescents's especially young girls's are at heightened risk for HIV infection. Male and female participants aged 15 - 18 years (N=33) were asked to respond to a series of questions by taking photographs that best describe their perspectives or experiences. Results. The photovoice methodology allowed adolescents to represent their perspectives and experiences as experts on their lives and needs. The participants reported that adolescents in their community engage in various risky behaviours, of which risky sexual behaviours and hazardous substance use emerged as significantly problematic. Risky sexual behaviours entailed unprotected sex, having multiple sexual partners, cellphone sharing of pornography, and sex while intoxicated. Problematic substance use involved harmful drinking behaviours such as binge drinking and illicit drug use. Contextually relevant interventions aimed at reducing adolescent engagement in risky sexual behaviours and harmful substance use need to be prioritised. Additional recommendations are discussed.
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