Child Care SA is a child protection and youth development initiative, which seeks to enhance the capacity of young people in rural areas in KwaZulu Natal through facilitating their participation to ensure the protection of their dignity, rights and well-being, and to develop their self-esteem, talents and skills. The initiative was established in 1995. It started as a project and has grown from strength to strength over the past 18 years.
In 2007 it was awarded the Jet Community Award in the category We Care.
We strive to create a society where the rights and well-being of children and youth are protected, and they have the opportunities and encouragement to develop into responsible, self-sufficient adults who are able to contribute positively to society and break the cycle of povert
The situation of young people in uThungulu District
We are currently working in rural region of the Province of KwaZulu Natal under Uthungulu District. uThungulu District Municipality is located in the north-eastern region of the KwaZulu-Natal province on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. It covers an area of approximately 8213 square kilometres, which is exacerbated by the geographical characteristics of mountainous terrains and large distances between our rural areas.
Uthungulu has a large population of young people, yet with no specific programmes that seek to address their needs are comparable with their population. Child Care SA recently conducted a baseline study to understand issues affecting adolescents and youth in our specific project catchment area in Uthungulu.
A total of 104 interviews were conducted in the first round of this study. 21 of these were group interviews. A total of 44 interviews were conducted with individuals below the age of 30. Another 21 were between 30 and 39. The 21 group interviews included 249 individuals. 17 of the groups – and thus the majority of participants – were youth. 59 interviews were about HIV/AIDS, 63 about drug and alcohol abuse and 45 about teen pregnancy.
- HIV and AIDS
- KZN highest prevalence; 1 of 2 provinces where incidence isn't declining
- The IDP of uMlalazi sites 36% HIV+ people
- Youth and in particular young women are most affected
What are some of the factors influencing the spread of HIV/AIDS among youth?
- Silence seems to be the major factor
- What does this mean?
Study indicates that the present day information programmes are successful in spreading information but that information is insufficient to lower the rates of infection. The response to our questionnaires suggests that people are willing to share neutral knowledge but less willing to share personal experience.
- 67% of our respondents said that they knew their HIV status. On the other hand, a total of 52% have either never tested (26%) or tested more than one year ago (26%). (HSRC: 33% of SA know)
- This indicates the importance of a prevention programme addressing the issue of silence – on the part of the parents and peers, in order to hit at the stigma and fear surrounding HIV/AIDS and ensure that youth are better able to protect themselves.
So, what might the reasons be for the increase in prevalence locally?
Can it be that stigma around HIV and AIDS, including fear of the consequences of openness, leads people to state that they know no one who is HIV positive, that they can't tell their friends and even when they tell those who are close to them they do so indirectly? Can stigma and fear around this topic lead to people wanting to talk about it and inform in neutral community information meetings rather than sitting down and talking with their children, their parents or their peers directly and openly? It seems easier to talk about it in a depersonalized way, as something that is about others, or about science, than to sit down and share one's own pain, doubt and experience with others. Stigma means "shame", "disgrace", "dishonour", "humiliation" or "a sign of social unacceptability". All of these things could be a reason for the reticence described above.
2. DRUGS AND ALCOHOL ABUSE
- Substance abuse (alcohol, dagga) common from age 13 or younger in SA
- KZN tops national stats in terms of youth drug/alcohol abuse
- You introduced by peers, often start using at home.
- Use around schools common; easy access (in spite of laws); adults or older youth provide minors w substances
Are youth in uThungulu District aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and the possible effect on their potential for having a positive and healthy lifestyle? What are some of the factors that influence the decision to use drugs and alcohol among youth?
- Our results show that the respondents to this study are clearly aware of a multitude of possible negative psychological, physical and social effects of the use of drugs and/or alcohol.
So, what influences them?
- A number of factors, these included their friends (43%), family (7%) or schoolmates/colleagues (21%). They often started using illicit drugs at home (33%) or in public places (e.g. park) (30%). Anecdotal information reports that drug sale in and around schools is common.
- In order to deal with problems/stress
- Peer pressure
3. TEENAGE PREGNANCY
- We discovered that KZN is 2nd of all provinces in South Africa in rates of teen pregnancy and again Uthungulu was extremely high for a rural municipality.
- Key element of a positive, healthy lifestyle is completing school and/or gaining other competencies that facilitate entrance into working life
- How does having a baby while still a learner influence educational opportunities for young girls and boys?
- What are some of the ways to expand the options of young people in this situation?
- None of those interviewed are happy about what they perceive as an increase in teen pregnancy in their areas.
- All of the respondents except one respond that there are only disadvantages to having a child when the mother/father are themselves adolescents.
- The disadvantage mentioned most often is leaving school or taking a longer time to finish school.
- ALL knew girls & boys who became parents while still at school
- All knew at least one way to avoid getting pregnant
Some reasons, suggested being used or falling in love with older people with money, drinking (and doing something you didn't aim to do), peer pressure, lack of access to birth control, poverty, poor sex education, bad behaviour and access to grant money
The study has shown us that while much work is done to address these issues in the community. The lack of participation of the youth in resolving the problems will increase these challenges.
Most young people within the area where the study was done, identified STRESS, as a major cause for most of the social problems that are affecting. Due to the following facts:
- There are no job opportunities in the region
- Lack of access to information to opportunities available to them (e.g job advertisements)
- No provisions are made by parents for the future, as results when they die young people have to find coping mechanisms.
- Most of fail to apply for universities and colleges in time, as a result they do not further their studies and
Upon comparison of these two data sets, Child Care South Africa has developed several different approaches. We believe the most effective way to address these problems is to begin with the youth.
- The current 53% unemployment rate could potentially translate into a strong, diverse workforce. Additionally, further education and employment for the youth can lead to better lifestyle choices and a subsequent decrease in the rate of drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS infection, teenage pregnancy and other issues faced by the community.
- To equip the youth with skills such as stress management and dealing with peer pressure can motivate them and provide them with alternative options to alcohol and drugs.
This baseline study was done in 2012 and has informed our two programs specifically the Shomies in Action and Vuleka be wise programs. feel free to write to us for update or advice on how we could facilitate and support the communities for overcome these issues.