Original Articles

Exploring the Intersecting Health Risks of Substance Abuse, Sexual Risk, and Violence for Female South African Teen Dropouts

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 21, issue 1, 2011 , pages: 15–25
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2011.10820425
Author(s): Kyla Marie Sawyer-KurianNorth Carolina Central University, USA, Felicia A. BrowneRTI International, USA, Tara CarneyMedical Research Council, South Africa, Petal PetersenMedical Research Council, South Africa, Wendee M. WechsbergRTI International, USA


The study sought to better understand the cultural contexts of the risks for adolescent females who have dropped out of school. Focus groups were conducted with 37 Black and Coloured females aged 13 to 17 in Cape Town, South Africa. Data were analysed using content analysis. Methamphetamine, cannabis, and alcohol were used by both, however, Black teens also used methaqualone and Coloured teens used heroin and ecstasy. Some teens traded sex for drugs and others did so at the request of their drug-addicted mothers. Teens revealed high rates of violence, including rape, and many myths and barriers about condom use, revealing risky sex behaviours. Conclusion—Cultural nuances between the two groups will help inform the adaptation of an HIV prevention intervention.

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