Child or adolescent sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy are among the many plights faced by adolescents in the world. UNICEF reveals that for every 10 minutes somewhere in the world, an adolescent dies as a result of violence. Sexual violence, one of the several vices against the adolescent cannot be overlooked. Up to one-third of adolescent girls in Ghana report their first sexual experience as being forced (UNICEF Ghana, 2017)
Defined as the involvement of an adolescent or child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend and is unable to give informed consent, sexual violence can be done by both adults and other children. Research has shown that it is usually committed by someone the victim knows. Some of the offenders include acquaintances, current or former intimate partner, family members, persons in authority or strangers. It is prevalent among girls around the world than boys. According to the W.H.O., very few children seek or receive any types of service after these incidents because with most surveys done, less than 10% of the victims do. (WHO, 2017).
The Ghana Statistics Services reveals in its Ghana Maternal Health Survey 2017 that 32% of 19 year olds are already mothers; 19% pregnancies among 20 year olds end in abortions and 14% of 15 – 19 year olds are already engaged in child bearing. Also the 2014 Demography and Health survey states that 56% youth are sexually active by 20 years, 43% by 18 years and 31.5 % modern contraceptives used among unmarried girls as shown in the diagram below.
Also as a result of PSM’S engagement with 15,000 adolescents in Junior High Schools over the past four years through its flag-ship project “Knowledge Plus Values”, a sexual reproductive health seminar, some of the causes identified for sexual violence and abuse among adolescents were the ignorance of their sexual rights to say no, to be assertive about their sexual choices and report incidences.
Besides sexual violence, teenage pregnancy in Ghana continues to be a major threat to our basic education and society. 750,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Ghana in 2014. In 2015 the Greater Accra Region recorded 10,415 alone with the Upper East Region and Central Region recording the highest. In 2016, the Upper East and Volta regions recorded 5,587 and 10,296 respectively. The teenage pregnancy rates and figures in Ghana are highly unacceptable and must be addressed using all workable strategies and methods.
Say No to Sex campaign is a preventive intervention to address adolescent teenage pregnancy, sexual violence and abuse by educating adolescents about their sexual and reproductive rights; harassment and abuse issues to empower them to be assertive in their sexual choices. The campaign also seeks to support victims of adolescent abuse. The campaign targets younger adolescents between the ages of 11 – 16 years in Junior High Schools The campaign uses an evidenced based Peer – to – Peer and Facilitator – Peer model. The education is done using the campaign booklet Say No to Sex which describes four scenarios in which the adolescent may find him/herself in compromising situations.
The Say No to Sex campaign aims to reach 50,000 adolescents in Ghana in 3 years beginning with two regions that is Volta and Cape Coast Regions in the first six months before it is scaled up to other regions. The Volta and the Central regions have the highest rates besides Upper East region.