Adolescence (Ages 12 to 17)
The high levels of teenage pregnancy continue to be of great concern. According to the results of the 2011 Demographics and Family Health Survey (ENDES), out of all adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, 12.5% had already been pregnant. The highest percentages of teen maternity were observed among women with primary education (33.9%), those residing in the rain forest (25.3%), those in the lowest quintile of wealth (22.4%), and in rural areas (19.7%). Lower percentages were observed in Metropolitan Lima (8.3%), among those with higher education, and those in the upper quintile of wealth (8.6% and 2.5%, respectively).
Peru has remained committed to its fight against HIV/AIDS. The first case of AIDS diagnosed in the country was in 1983. As of December 31, 2010, a total of 28,445 cases of AIDS had been reported, and 45,876 notified cases of HIV, but it is estimated that more than 100,000 people may be living with human immunodeficiency virus by 2040.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 16.0% of those affected are under age 15, and 450 children are born in the country with HIV each year. The number of identified HIV cases in adolescents reached its peak in 2009 (66 cases), while as of September 2010, a total of 50 cases had been registered. The majority of reported cases involve adolescent women, with the exception of 2008, where a higher number of cases were reported among adolescent males.
The HIV/AIDS cases in this population group are most frequently related to the practice of sexual relations in unsafe conditions, a lack of appropriate sexual education, unawareness of measures of protection, improper use of IV needles, situations of rape or cultural gender patterns. This context primarily drives males into risky situations, both for their own sexual health and that of their partner.
With regard to nutritional health between 2000 and 2009, anaemia in adolescent women between the ages of 15 and 19 fell from 29% to 20%. However, the rise of weight problems is worrisome, appearing in 1 out of every 10 adolescent men and women, more frequently in urban areas (16%) than rural areas (7%), and among non-poor adolescents (16%) than their peers living in poverty (8%).
With regard to education, participation in secondary school has grown. The percentage of adolescents between the ages of 17 and 18 who had finished high school in 2003 was 49%, while this figure had risen to 57.3% by 2009.
If we compare urban and rural areas, there is a significant gap. While in urban areas, 69.1% of adolescents finish high school at a normal age, this is true for only 35.7% of adolescents in rural areas.
According to The State of Children in Peru, published in 2011, of all students between the ages of 12 and 17 who attend secondary school, 37% show poor academic performance, i.e., they attend a grade beneath that corresponding to their age.
The probabilities of experiencing poor academic performance appear to be slightly higher among adolescent males (38%), compared to their female peers (35%). The condition of poor performance evidences wide gaps by area of residence, first language, and situation of poverty.
Of all adolescents attending secondary school in rural zones, 53% are in grades beneath those that correspond to their age. In urban areas, on the other hand, this is true of 26%. This percentage is still high, but only half than that observed in rural areas.
Gaps by first language and situation of poverty are even greater. While the rate of poor academic performance is around 30% in the case of non-poor adolescents (26%) and those whose first language is Spanish (32%), it is over 64% among adolescents living in extreme poverty (65%) and those whose first language is Quechua (66%).
Nationwide, the percentage of adolescents who work is higher among males (56%) than females (51%), a difference that is more notable in rural areas, where the gap widens to seven percentage points (85% of males versus 78% of females), than in urban areas, with a gap of three percentage points (37% of males compared to 34% of women).
While female adolescents exhibit a lower participation in economic activities, they have a higher participation in domestic tasks. While 73% of all adolescents engage in domestic chores, this percentage increases to 87% among female adolescents, who tend to spend more hours than males engaged in this type of activity.
The proportion of native Spanish speaking adolescents who work is relatively high (50%), but the percentage is even higher (79%) among adolescents whose first language is an indigenous one.
In urban areas, over half of adolescents do not work (65%), while among those who do, the majority spends a maximum of 20 hours a week engaged in such activities. It should be noted, however, that 18% of adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 in urban areas have work schedules that exceed 20 hours a week.
In rural areas, this scenario is different: only 18% of adolescents do not work, and while the majority of adolescents who do work do so for less than 20 hours a week (43%), a total of 38% of adolescents in rural areas work more than 20 hours a week: 24% work from 20 to 40 hours a week, while 14% work over 40 hours a week.
The Childhood Action Plan 2012 – 2021 warns that child sexual exploitation in Peru is a serious problem that affects a growing number of adolescents. Among the range of complex causes behind this phenomenon is the tolerance or indifference of the general population; misguided child raising standards based on a lack of respect among men for the physical and sexual integrity of women as proof of their manliness, as part of a macho culture; the use of violence (whether psychological, physical, or sexual); deficiencies in the justice system, which sometimes provides impunity for sexual aggressors and exploiters (pimps, clients, and middlemen); as well as the conditions of poverty and exclusion experienced by a large percentage of Peruvian families.