South African schoolchildren are having less sex and watching more television, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, the second of its kind, was conducted in 2008, the Medical Research Council said.
The survey, of 10 270 pupils in grades eight to 11, showed “significant reductions” in risky sexual behaviour, the MRC said. The number of pupils who had ever had sex dropped from 41% to 38%.
Of those who had had sex, the number with two or more sexual partners in their lifetime showed a significant decrease from 45% to 41%. Fewer pupils – 52% as opposed to 70% – had had one or more sexual partners during the past three months. Among those who had ever had sex, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections was significantly reduced, from 7% to 4%, while consistent condom use increased from 29% to 31%.
“The survey showed clear reductions in physical activity, increased threat to mental health and unsafe traffic behaviour,” the MRC said. “A significant increase in physical inactivity (38% to 42%) and TV watching for more than three hours per day (25% to 29%) was observed.” The number of pupils who had attempted suicide during the past six months was 3% up, to 21%. Ten percent more pupils had, in the past 30 days, driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol.
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