Adolescent development and adolescent participation

All adolescents should grow up strong and well informed, and their voices must be heard

A group of students are talking with their friends at the school corridor.
UNICEF Thailand/2016/Thuentap

The challenge

Adolescence – the second decade of life – is an age of transformation and opportunity that requires special attention and protection. Adolescents (aged 10–19 years) make up 13 per cent, or 8.7 million, of Thailand’s population. They face new and perhaps even greater risks to their health and development. Major areas of concern are HIV and sexual health, including adolescent pregnancy; malnutrition and obesity; alcohol and substance abuse; and mental health. In addition, adolescents still tend to be excluded from decisions that affect their lives.

70 per cent donut chart

70% of all sexually transmitted infections occur in youth aged 15–24 years.

Less than half donut chart

Less than half of youth aged 15-24 have correct knowledge on HIV transmission.

104 in 1,000 female adolescents aged 15-19 years who have only primary school education have given birth in the past year

104 in 1,000 female adolescents aged 15-19 years who have only primary school education have given birth in the past year

While the number of people living with HIV continues to decline, new infections keep occurring among groups of young people who inject drugs and men having sex with men. About 70 per cent of all sexually transmitted infections occur among young people aged 15–24 years. Yet, when young people are asked how HIV is transmitted, less than half give the correct answers.

The adolescent birth rate in Thailand is a major concern. For every 1,000 female adolescents aged 15–19 years, 51 of them have given birth in the past year. The situation is most prevalent among teenagers from impoverished households with little education. In Thailand, however, services are fragmented and often lack sensitivity to adolescents’ needs. Information about the services that do exist is scarce, and budgets are inadequate.

The solutions

UNICEF Thailand works at the policy level aiming to increase the investments needed to strengthen national capacities to create and implement adolescent-sensitive programmes. These efforts will be supported by the more active participation of adolescents themselves, within the national planning process, in particular through the Children and Youth Council of Thailand.

UNICEF will also support the provision of gender-sensitive adolescent-friendly services through the development of capacity-building programmes for care providers, and will facilitate joint monitoring and data management to support integrated implementation of these services.

A group of students are learning how to wear condom
UNICEF Thailand/2016/Gratzer
Teachers at Jareon Pattana Business Administration Vocational College (JBAC) in Bangkok shows students how to wear condom as part of their sex education activities.

Communication for development will be used to empower adolescents with skills and knowledge to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, non-communicable diseases and early pregnancy. These efforts will also aim to address gender disparities and reach adolescents of varied sexual orientations.

Participation by adolescents in key forums will contribute to changes in attitudes, practices and social norms relating to respect for children, their opinions and their rights. This will build the capacity of independent youth organizations, National Child and Youth Council members and students to drive positive change.

Tools for participation in digital platforms will be further developed to include the establishment of the online tool for child rights, U-Report, in Thailand. UNICEF will partner with the private sector and young people themselves on participation.