Protecting Youth and Adolescent Sexual Health

Throughout the world, young people are particularly vulnerable to unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. They are often powerless in their societies to exercise their rights to access information and services, and there are often cultural taboos around young people and sexuality.

Planned Parenthood's approach to young people is unique. We believe that to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs, young people need both information and services provided in their environment. As a result, our youth program ensures access to both information and services, such as birth control (including condoms), pregnancy and STD testing, and counseling. These services are provided directly to youth in places where they congregate and feel most comfortable, often by their own peers. Most of our projects use a peer education approach in which young people become leaders, educators, and service providers.

In Guatemala, our partner organization, Tan Ux'il — a community organization based in the rural northern region of Petén — provides sexuality education and services to adolescents through peer education and street theater performances. They also run the now-famed radio show Sexo Tips, produced and written by young people for young people, who call in with questions about sexual and reproductive health and know they’ll be answered accurately and appropriately by others their age.

In Ethiopia, Planned Parenthood is supporting a child rights organization in Nazareth that advocates for the rights of young people who have been exploited, abused, or orphaned. The organization founded a peer education program, in which young people living in their shelter programs are trained as leaders and educators for their peers. They also started a series of after-school clubs that give young people a safe space to speak about the sexual and reproductive health issues on their minds and receive medically accurate information.