Building the Information

Base on Young Men in the Western Balkans

The picture emerging from YMI data highlights several priority issues for these young men:

  • Young men are increasing sexually active within this age range, but have limited understanding of sexual and reproductive health;
  • While condom use at first sex is relatively high (compared with young men in other countries), there is a need to increase consistent use of condoms;
  • The majority of young men are engaged in multiple risky behaviors, including smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and, to a lesser extent, using drugs (mostly marijuana).  In addition to carrying their own risks, such behaviors can be a factor in risky sexual and violent outcomes and often part of a peer culture;
  • More specifically, there is a strong association between alcohol use and violent behaviors and such behaviors are in turn related to a specific culture of masculinity and part of peer cultures;
  • Peer violence is a concern for these young men, both as individuals and as members of gangs. Young men clearly turn to their peers for support, including for support in fights and in turn are willing to fight for their peers, and encouraged to fight by their peers. This finding suggests the challenges and need to intervene at the level of peer culture (and the wider societal views that fuel peer culture), rather than focusing only on young men as individuals.
  • Violence against women is low, but may increase as young men become more sexually experienced and enter into different types of relationships. However, support for violence against women is relatively high, particularly when women’s behavior is seen as effecting men’s honor. Again, this suggests the prevalence and challenge of changing those norms around male honor.
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