The prevalence of early sexual debut in this study was 20.5% with 95% CI (17.6, 23.3%).
This finding is similar with studies conducted in Nigeria(18.6%), Woldiya Town (18.4%), Shire-Endassilassie town(19.0%), and FagetaLekoma district of Awi zone(20.4%). However, this finding is higher than the results of studies conducted in Malaysia (9.8%), and Ido-ekiti, South-west Nigeria(11.0%). The possible justification could be due to variations in some demographic characteristics between the current study as compared to those mentioned studies. For instance, in the case of Malaysia study, the proportion of urban residents (57.5%) is lower than the current study(83.3%). Generally, youth living in urban residents are exposed to watching pornography, drinking alcohol and taking different substances which in turn lead them to early sexual debut. In addition, there is variation in age of the respondents between the Ido-ekiti study as compared to the current study. For instance, if we compare the age of the study participants included in the Ido-ekiti study, around 38.1% of the respondents are 14 years or below. Where as in the current study all the respondents are above the age of 16 years. Hence as the age of the respondents became higher the probability of youth to be engaged in sexual practices including early sexual debut could be higher.
This finding is lower than the results of studies conducted in Legehida district (27.6%), Debre Markos(64.7%), and a study conducted in eight east African countries(27.3%). The possible justification could be the difference in study populations included. For instance, the Debre Markos study was conducted among university students; whereas the current study was conducted among preparatory school students. University students may have more sexual exposure as compared to preparatory students. In addition there is some socio-cultural variation between the studies conducted in eight African countries as compared to the current study, which may contribute for the high prevalence of early sexual debut. More over if we compare the current study with that of a study conducted in Legehida district the proportion of Muslim study participants is higher in Legehida district (72.9%) as compared to the current study (15.9%). Usually, in the Muslim community early marriage is a common practice that may contribute for the high prevalence of early sexual debut in Legehida district.
The odds of early sexual debut was two times more experienced among participants who did not get lesson on sexuality education as compared to those who did. This finding is supported by a study conducted in Ogbomosa, Nigeria. The possible explanation is that had lesson on sexuality education is a protective factor for early sexual debut, since many sexuality education programs include it.
The odds of early sexual debut is fourteen times more experienced among participants who had history of drinking alcohol as compared to those who had not. This finding is supported by studies conducted in Ido-ekiti, South west Nigeria, a study conducted among eight African countries, and Ogbomoso, Nigeria. The possible justification is usually drinking alcohol is one of the risky behaviors that lead young people to be engaged in risky sexual practices including early sexual debut. Moreover, this might be due to the effect of alcohol which changes healthy thinking ability of the young people and results in unplanned and unsafe sex.
The odds of early sexual debut is nearly four times more observed among study participants who had poor parental monitoring as compared to those who had good parental monitoring. This finding is in line with studies conducted in Woldiya town, Faggeta Lekoma district of Awi zone, and a study conducted in eight African countries. The possible reason is that parental monitoring is mentioned as one of the protective factors that help young people to have positive development. In addition had parental monitoring is one of the protective factors mentioned, and has strong influence on young peoples’ engagement in early sexual debut. .
The odds of early sexual debut is four times more experienced among respondents who had no history of good academic achievement as compared to those who had good academic achievement. This is in line with a study conducted in faggeta Lekoma district of Awi zone. The reason could be those students who have good academic achievement may be engaged more in reading on subject(academic) matters rather than reading on magazines and watching different medias that promote early sexual debut. In addition, those students who had poor academic achievement may be out of school, and may be exposed to different risky behaviors like alcohol drinking, chewing Khat and other substances that may in turn lead youth to practice early sexual debut. Moreover, those students who have poor academic performance usually and may watch different pornographic films that may promote early sexual debut.
The odds of early sexual debut is three times more common among participants who had no history of discussion on sexuality issues with their parents as compared to those who had. This is supported by studies conducted in Shire-Endassilasie, and Debre Markos. The possible explanation is that had discussion about sexuality issues with parents lead young people to develop self confidence on their own decision making ability on sexuality issues. Usually parents tell to their kids on the risks of having early sexual debut, and magnify the advantage of delaying the age of sexual debut. All these issues may have influence on youth to delay the age of onset of sexual exposure.
In conclusion, around one fifth of study participants engaged in early sexual debut. Had no lesson on sexuality education, had history of drinking alcohol, had no history of good parental monitoring, had no discussion on sexual issues with parents, and had poor academic achievement were found to have statistically significant association with early sexual debut. Sexuality education programs at earlier life are strongly recommended, hence school and other program managers should strongly work to incorporate sexuality education in the school curriculum. Parents should be trained in a way that enables them to monitor their teens with the necessary skill for sexual negotiation. Use of alcohol to adolescents and alcohol sales outlet proximal to school environments need legislative restriction. The school environment should consider different strengthening mechanisms for those students who have poor academic achievement.
This is an institution based cross-sectional study and hence cannot be generalized to the out of school youth. The cross-sectional nature of the study we cannot infer the true causal association between the dependant and independent variables.