‘Indian adolescents in metros vulnerable to risky behaviour’

November 14th, 2008 - 11:38 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Indian adolescents in and around metropolitan cities believe in partying hard and are vulnerable to risky behaviour - be it physical intimacy, alcohol or drugs, says a new study.It also indicates that girls are not far behind in partying, smoking, drinking or even watching porn sites.

The study was conducted by well-known psychiatrist Samir Parikh, who surveyed 1,000 students studying in private schools in Delhi and the suburban towns of Gurgaon and Noida. A total of 541 boys and 459 girls in the 14-17 age group were studied.

“It is an attitudinal survey, not a behavioural survey. Most of these children are vulnerable and could get trapped into committing risky behaviour,” Parikh, head of the department of mental health and behavioural sciences in Max Healthcare, told IANS.

The survey noted that many of the boys and girls said it was “common to be physically intimate with someone even though one is reluctant to participate at times”.

Most of the boys and girls get involved in sexual relationships due to pressure - be it peer pressure or media exposure, said Parikh.

“These children are vulnerable as sex is in their minds and they are curious. They don’t think it is risky behaviour. As they don’t think it is wrong, it could be dangerous later in their lives when they get an opportunity. There are so many dangers,” he said.

The survey said that 15 percent boys as opposed to 10 percent of girls fall in the category that is vulnerable to starting a physical relationship.

The study also found that a fair number of the respondents said they believed that having one drink at parties was quite common. About 16 percent boys believed this and themselves indulged in the practice on many occasions.

Girls are also not far behind when it comes to the occasional tipple, with 11 percent believing this and not at all shy in trying it out too.

Parikh says what is worrisome is that more than 600 students, both boys and girls from a sample of 1,000 students, had admitted that they consume alcohol at parties.

Smoking cigarettes in school premises was also found to be a frequent occurrence. Here girls, at 33 percent, had a marginal edge over boys (31 percent). “There seems to be a tilt towards smoking being an activity that is indulged in school premises as well by quite a large number of students,” the study said.

Another thing the survey found was that experimenting with new drugs once in a while is common in all schools, especially at parties.

At least 23 percent boys as compared to 13 percent girls experimented with new drugs in parties, it said.

“These results seem to indicate that parties seem to be occasions in which a lot of risky indulgences take place,” the survey said.

Bragging about visiting porn sites is also another common topic in conversation among both boys and girls. “The data showed that quite a high population of both boys and girls know or visit sites that are not meant for their age groups,” it said.

Also, many of the respondents believed that television shows are reflective of physical violence. “Most believe that television shows are mostly about hitting, hurting and abusing others,” said Parikh.

Noting that there is a lot going on in an adolescent’s mind, he said that they need to be given life skills, which is unfortunately lacking in India. “We need to address this for the children’s better, knowledgeable future,” he said.

(Kavita Bajeli-Datt can be contacted at kavita.d@ians.in)

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