Sexual Behavior among Orphaned Adolescents in Western Kenya: A Comparison of Institutional- and Family-Based Care Settings

March 17, 2017
Authors: Lonnie Embleton, et al
Organization: Journal of Adolescent Health

The OSCAR project (Orphaned and Separated Children’s Assessment Related to the their Health and Well-Being) is a longitudinal cohort evaluating the effects of living in different care environments on the physical and mental health outcomes of orphaned and separated children aged 10-18 years. Baseline data from OSCAR of a cohort of 1,365 orphaned adolescents aged 10–18 years, 712 (52%) living in institutional environments and 653 (48%) in family-based care in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya was examined to study whether there were differences in risky sexual behavior or risk of sexual exploitation in the two settings. While the authors caution against using a single measure of wellbeing, the findings suggest that orphaned adolescents living in family-based care in Uasin Gishu, Kenya, may be at increased risk of transactional sex and sexual violence compared to those in institutional care. Adult supervision and provision of basic needs in institutions may reduce adolescent engagement in risky behavior.