Sexting amongst high school children is threatening to flare-up the rate of HIV/Aids prevalence and infections, psychologists at Catholic University of Eastern Africa have said.
According to a study by the university’s Department of Psychology, according to the survey, has made it more challenging to contain adolescent pregnancies, HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases.
“The pace, frequency and impact of sexting on the children’s lives is mind-boggling. It’s a time-bomb in our hands,” Stephen Asatsa, the principal investigator, said.
According to the study, 98 per cent of secondary school students in Nairobi County are into sexting, with 62 per cent of daily sexters having multiple sex partners.
“Teenage pregnancy and HIV prevalence remains high among youths aged 13 to 19, which is a cause for worry,” says Dr Asatsa.
Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images, primarily between mobile phones.
In the report, daily sexters scored highest in all the measured parameters including masturbation, pornography, multiple sex partners or frequent sex compared to those who did so weekly, rarely or not at all. But this is not just a Nairobi problem; it is widespread.
A convened stakeholders’ meeting in Kakamega last week heard that in Butere sub-county alone, 622 cases of early pregnancies were recorded last year.
“Out of the 4,057 expectant mothers seen in our local health facilities last year, over 600 were children,” said Butere sub-county Medical Officer Okereto Keya.
A recent report by the National Aids Control Council shows eight adolescents contract HIV daily in Homa Bay. The figures are high is some other marginalized communities, with a huge drop out of students from schools, thanks to poverty.
In sexting, adults do not interfere. Asatsa cautions against fighting use of mobile phones by school children no matter what they feel about sexting.
“Focus should shift from fighting the use of cell phones among adolescents and instead focus on how to use the same platform as a learning resource.”
Approximately 9,545 adolescents aged 10 to 19 contracted HIV in four counties in 2015, while 771 died of Aids-related complications.
Although mobile phones are generally not allowed in schools, the research shows that over 100 per cent day students, reported having access to phones.