What they really want to know. Developing booklets for young people on growing up and sexuality

Toolkits & Guides
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ

A large proportion of young people worldwide are sexually active, and this exposes them to the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and to the risk of unintended pregnancies. In 2008, 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth and approximately 40% of these pregnancies were unintended. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years account for more than one third of all new HIV infections, with some 3,000 young people becoming infected with HIV each day. The UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic 2010 reports that the proportion of 15 – 24 year old young women and men who have comprehensive and correct knowledge of HIV and AIDS is only 34 per cent. Addressing this widespread lack of knowledge must be a priority for educators and public health experts worldwide since there is strong evidence that such efforts are effective. Information materials on sexual and reproductive health for young people often take a very technical approach and fail to address the kind of questions that adolescents themselves grapple with. The only way of ensuring that information is relevant to them is to involve young people systematically in its development and production. Young people’s involvement – from the initial needs assessment through to the actual development and production of information materials – is at the heart of this approach, which entails the following steps in creating question-and-answer booklets: Establishing baseline information on young people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to sexual and reproductive health; Collecting young people’s questions on growing up, relationships, love, sexuality, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV and AIDS; Grouping and analysing questions with young people; Deciding on and selecting the final set of questions; Developing scientifically correct, understandable and relevant answers in a multidisciplinary team that specifically includes young people; Creating illustrations with a graphic artist, cartoonist and a photographer working together with young people; Clarifying ownership and responsibility for dissemination; Printing and disseminating the product; Monitoring and evaluating the booklets’ dissemination and their impact on their readers’ knowledge, attitude and behaviours.

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