Bhutan has a very young population: more than half the Bhutanese are under 28. The adolescent-youth group (10 to 24 years) constitutes about a third of the total population. They are full of energy, ideas and passion, and can become enthusiastic and committed agents of change. This age marks, in many ways, a definitive shift in the life of every individual.
42 per cent Bhutanese are below the age of 18, comprising about 24 percent of the population.
Although a young population represents many opportunities, adolescents are a vulnerable group making the difficult transition from childhood into adulthood. Adolescence requires special attention and protection. It is a transitional period during which children go through several physical transformations as they mature. They face many challenges along the way, arising from existing as well as evolving societal norms:
- Urbanization and consumerism; changes in the traditional family structure, and a changing social and cultural environment.
- Risky sexual behavior, physical and sexual abuse, early marriage and motherhood and a wide range of health issues including sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and reproductive health issues).
- Rising levels of unemployment, substance abuse, crime and violence .
- Limited avenues, willingness or capacity, to engage with decisions affecting them, both at the local and national levels.