Young people's social networks, confidants and issues of reproductive health

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University of Cape Town

This qualitative micro study was conducted in the Metropole of Cape Town, the third largest metropole in South Africa during 2002. The study must be seen in relation to the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS) that was conducted in June 2002. CAPS is planned as a longitudinal data collection project aimed at the youth in the Cape Metropole. The panel study broadly aims to supplement existing data sets like the Census, October Household Survey [OHS], Labour Force Survey [LFS] in particular with longitudinal and qualitative data addressing areas not necessarily done by national surveys. It anticipates uncovering determinants of schooling, unemployment and earnings of young adults and youth in this part of the country. 'Adolescent childbearing is common in South Africa as demonstrated by the 1998 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey, where by the age of 19 years, 30 percent of teenage females have had a child, 35 percent have been pregnant and the majority of teenage childbearing is outside of marriage.' [Department of Health 1999] Given the high prevalence of pregnancy and unmarried childbearing among adolescent females, it becomes important to understand the degree to which young people themselves understand how pregnancy and childbearing in adolescence delay or disrupt other life course events such as school completion or entering into marriage or cohabitation. Drawing on focus group discussion data from teenagers in Cape Town on normatively appropriate sequences, we note the degree to which the actual ways teenage males and females move through adolescence depart from the normative sequences.