School-aged children in Ukraine use alcohol and drugs and begin sexual life at an increasingly young age
Кyiv, 10 April 2008: The results of a study launched today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that children use alcohol, take drugs and begin sexual life at an increasingly young age.
The survey, conducted among school-aged children in all regions of Ukraine, shows that some 25 per cent of 15-16 year olds drank alcohol before the age of 13. Some 40 per cent of children aged 11-12 also drank alcohol. The age at which children start to consume alcohol and to smoke is decreasing while the number of girls involved is increasing.
More then 10 per cent of boys and almost 5 per cent of girls in eighth grade had taken drugs at least once or twice. Some 35 per cent of boys and 15 per cent of girls in the first-year of vocational college and 25 per cent and 15 per cent respectively of first-year students at university had also taken drugs.
Due to the continuing spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine, the survey also included an assessment of school-aged children’s knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Almost one-third of school-aged children said that they did not know how HIV is transmitted.
More then 10 per cent of those surveyed aged 13–14 had already had a sexual experience. Among students at vocational schools aged 15–16 this figure was some 45 per cent. Among them 20 per cent of those aged 15-16 and 25 per cent of those aged 13-14 did not use a condom when they last had sex, but almost one in three consumed alcohol or took drugs.
‘It is clear from this survey that there is an urgent need to provide comprehensive, easy to understand and persuasive information on HIV/AIDS and to build the life skills of school-aged children so that they behave responsibly’ said Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. ‘As 70 per cent of those surveyed stated that teachers and professors are the most significant source of knowledge on HIV/AIDS, clearly we must strengthen HIV prevention activities in schools’.
The survey covered over 6,500 children in 335 schools, vocational colleges and universities in 124 cities and 103 villages. The study was conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Research with support from UNICEF as part of a project implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 41 countries across Europe and in North America.
The Survey provides useful information for all those concerned with the health of the young generation in Ukraine including decision makers, parents, service providers, young people themselves, non-governmental organisations and the mass media.
A sociological survey ‘Health and Behavioural Trends among School-Aged Children in Ukraine’ in Ukraine was supported by the following organizations: Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport, Ministry of Health, State Social Service for Family, Children and Youth, UNICEF, WHO, International HIV/AIDS Alliance.
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.