Differential Gender Perception Of Sexual Abuse Among Adolescents In Secondary Schools
The study investigated the differential gender perception of sexual abuse among adolescents in secondary schools. Experimental design was used in order to assess the opinions of the respondent with the use of questionnaire to deduce responses from the participants. One hundred and twenty (120) students were selected randomly from three senior secondary schools in the Local government of the study. The instrument utilized for the study was Self designed Questionnaire. Five hypotheses were postulated and tested in the study, using the independent t-test for hypothesis one and hypothesis three, while hypotheses two was analyzed with analysis of variance, while four and five were tested using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient tool at 0.05 level of significance.
At the end of the analysis, the following results emerged: Hypothesis one revealed the that there was significant difference between family conflicts and sexual abuse; Hypothesis two revealed that therewas significant relationship between Policies, Family environments and sexual abuse;Hypothesis three revealed that there is no significant difference between anxieties by adolescents and sexual abuse; and Hypothesis four revealed that there was significant relationship between groups by adolescents and sexual abuse; while Hypothesis five revealed that there was significant relationship between sexuality educations acquired by adolescents and sexual abuse.
Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations among others were forwarded that government should create awareness of sexuality education and danger involved in any one who is been caught in sexual abuse. More so, Government should also employ those that study sexuality education and competent in the field of sexuality education. Hence, it is suggested that similar research with relevant research methodology should be used in carrying out research in other states of the federation to ascertain the degree of conformity which this research have on sexual abuse and sexuality education of adolescents of all senior secondary school students in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Over the last three decades, researchers, clinicians, and other health advocates have explored the incidence, prevalence, and consequences of sexual violence occurring within the context of domestically violent relationships, including adult marital and cohabiting relationships. Until recently, sexually based crimes occurring within adolescent acquaintance and dating relationships have gone largely unnoticed (Wordes& Nunez, 2002). In fact, most research, education, and preventative measures with adolescent populations have largely been related to sexual violence perpetrated by a parent or caregiver ( Stufflebeam, D. L. 2003).
However, increased inquiry into rape and sexual assault among our nation’s youth, such as the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s review of victimization of teenagers (Wordes& Nunez, 2002) and the U.S. Department of Justices’ (USDOJ) evaluation of Sexual Victimization of College Women (Fisher, Cullen, and Turner, 2000), has focused attention on the nature and consequences of sexual violence occurring within our adolescent population. This attention has resulted in the inclusion of two Healthy People 2010 objectives that relate specifically to reducing rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault among children and adolescent in Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in the World Report on Violence and Health (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi, & Lozano, 2002), defined sexual violence as: Any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a persons sexuality using coercion, by any person, regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. Sexual violence may include attempted and/or completed rape, sexual coercion and harassment, sexual contact with force or threat of force, and threat of rape (Fisher, Cullen, and Turner, 2000; WHO, 2002). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), adolescents are more likely to experience sexually violent crimes than any other age group (AAP, 2001). In fact, greater than half of all victims of sexual crimes, including rape and sexual assault, are women under the age of 25 years.
The National Crime Victim Survey (2000) noted that adolescent females age 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to report sexual assault, rape, and attempted rape. Often this violence occurs within the context of dating or acquaintance relationships, with the female partner the likely victim of violence and the male partner the likely perpetrator. However, other forms of sexual violence occurring among our nations youth, including sexual violence in gay and lesbian relationships, sexual violence perpetrated as hate crimes, and sexual violence as a form of hazing, while not included in this review, should not be disregarded.
Sexual abuse experienced in childhood or adolescence is a developmental stressor that can have profound, long-term physiologic and psychosocial effects (Banyard, Williams, & Siegel, 2001; Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2001; DeBellis, 2001). It has been associated with a variety of health-compromising behaviours and health problems, often considered attempts to cope with the trauma engendered by the abuse (Barker & Musick, 1994; Finkelhor & Browne, 1985; Hutchinson & Langlykke, 1997).
Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in the partnering of adolescent females with older adult males, often referred to as adult-teen sex (Donovan, 1997; Elstein& Davis, 1997; Harner, Burgess, & Asher, 2001; Lindberg, Sonenstein, Ku, and Martinez , 1997.) While most adult women do partner with slightly older males, application of this social norm to adolescent females has been linked to an increased risk for victimization, including physical and sexual violence.
Furthermore, imbalances in power and control, financial resources, levels of life experience, and even physical strength and stature may place younger females partnered with adult males at risk for experiencing unplanned and unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancy, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS. While partnering with an older male may be considered consensual in nature to the female, her peers, and possibly her family, sexual relationships with significantly older males may meet the legal definition of statutory rape. As such, several teen advocacy and pregnancy prevention programs have called for increased utilization of existing statutory rape laws to aid in the prosecution and punishment of adult men who have sex with adolescent females (Harner, Burgess, & Asher, 2001).
Bowen’s family systems theory (shortened to ‘Bowen theory’ from 1974) was one of the first comprehensive theories of family systems functioning (Bowen, 1966, 1978, Kerr and Bowen, 1988). It continues to be a central influence in the practice of family therapy. It is possible that some local family therapists have been influenced by many of Bowen’s ideas
Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. It is the nature of a family that its members are intensely connected emotionally. Often people feel distant or disconnected from their families, but this is more feeling than fact. Family members so profoundly affect each other’s thoughts, feelings, and actions that it often seems as if people are living under the same “emotional skin.” People solicit each other’s attention, approval, and support and react to each other’s needs, expectations, and distress. The connectedness and reactivity make the functioning of family members interdependent. A change in one person’s functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others. Families differ somewhat in the degree of interdependence, but it is always present to some degree. Eight interlocking concepts make up Bowen’s theory.
Justification of Bowen theory
Adolescence is a stage of storm and stress; boys and girls are into rape due to the unequal before the law of the land. There should be right to speak out to the necessary authorities if rape incident occurs, regardless of power and personality. If things are all equal, the way you treat a rich man victim and a poor man victim, the rate of the perpetrators will significantly reduce.
Besides, counsellors, teachers and significant others should try to apply different mechanism to reduces the rate of rape in the society and to treat everybody equal before the law.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Sexual violence is often referred to as a “hidden” crime (CDC, 2000) or a “silent epidemic” as rape and sexual assault frequently go unreported to the police and other authorities (Abbey, Zawacki, Buck, Clinton, & Mcauslan, 2001). In fact, according to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (2001), less than 15% of rapes are ever reported. This has been a concern for the researcher to dwell on the study.
Adolescents also may minimize sexually violent behaviours or may not perceive the sexual act as a crime and thus, not report sexual abuse case. Fisher, Cullen, and Turner (2000) noted that among college women who described experiencing a sexual act meeting the legal definition of rape, less than half (46.5%) personally defined the experience as rape. This may be due to several factors, including denial, sexual inexperience, guilt, previous victimization, and acceptance of traditional sex-role stereotypes. Furthermore, the misperception that visible injuries and physical trauma are always present after assault may cause some adolescents, especially those with minimal physical injuries, to not identify as a victim. This gives the researcher so much concern and if probably to design a paradigm to follow when adolescent is sexually abused.
Fear may also significantly impact an adolescent’s likelihood of reporting sexual abuse case. Among college age women, Fisher, Cullen, and Turner (2000) noted that 95% of rapes were not reported to the police. While two-thirds of the victims did tell someone about the assault, such as a friend, family member, or college official, victims cited fear that they would be treated hostility by the police (24.7%) and fear of reprisal by the assailant or others (39.5%) as factors influencing their decision not to report the crime. Fear may be a significant barrier to reporting when the perpetrator is a fellow classmate or peer with whom the victim must interact on a regular basis.
Characteristics of the abuse experience have also been shown to differ for girls and boys. It was found that the estimated percentage of male victims’ perpetrators who are themselves male ranges from 18 to 97, depending on the study, and that the estimated percentage of male perpetrators for female victims ranges from 80 to 100 ( Dhaliwal, 1996).
Though most investigations regarding sexual violence occurring among adolescents target college-age populations, there is growing evidence that sexual violence in dating and acquaintance relationships may occur among much younger populations (Beyer &Ogletree, 1998). In 1998 the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Violence Against Women Survey, which explored the incidence and prevalence of both intimate partner violence and sexual violence, noted that one out of every six women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape by the age of 18 (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998). Almost one-third (32%) of these assaults took place between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
Fear may also significantly impact an adolescent’s likelihood of reporting sexual abuse. Among college age women, Fisher, Cullen, and Turner (2000) noted that 95% of rapes were not reported to the police. While two-thirds of the victims did tell someone about the assault, such as a friend, family member, or college official, victims cited fear that they would be treated hostility by the police (24.7%) and fear of reprisal by the assailant or others (39.5%) as factors influencing their decision not to report the crime. Fear may be a significant barrier to reporting when the perpetrator is a fellow classmate or peer with whom the victim must interact on a regular basis.
This is a problem to the society because the victim that seizes not to report the rape case will be likely to face isolation from his or her peers.
The most common age for sexual abuse to begin is age nine. Most sexual abuse is reported by teenagers, but they have usually been victimized for many years before finally reporting the abuse. Most sexual abuse, particularly that involving a continuing relationship or incest, starts before the child reaches puberty (Daugherty, 2012).
Therefore, considering the gravity of the problem, this study investigates the differential gender perception of sexual abuse among adolescents in secondary schools.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The main purpose of the study was to determine the differential gender perception of sexual abuse among adolescents in secondary schools in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State. This research specifically seeks to evaluate.
- Whether there is any significant gender difference between family conflicts on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- Whether there is any significant relationship between family environments on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- Whether there is any significant relationship that exists between anxieties by adolescents on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- Whether there is any significant relationship that exists between peer group on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- Whether there is any significant relationship that exists between sexuality education on sexual abuse among adolescents.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the factors that can influence gender and family conflicts on sexual abuse among adolescents?
- What are the recommendations that can be appropriate to help formulate policies that effectively influence family environments and sexual abuse among adolescents?
- Is there any significant relationship that exists between anxieties by adolescents on sexual abuse among adolescents?
- Is there any significant relationship that exists between peer groups on sexual abuse among adolescents?
- Is there any significant relationship that exists between sexuality educations on sexual abuse among adolescents?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
- There is no significant gender influence that exists between family conflicts on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- There is no significant relationship between appropriate policies that effectively influence family environments and sexual abuse among adolescents.
- There is no significant relationship that exists between anxieties by adolescents on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- There is no significant relationship that exists between peer groups on sexual abuse among adolescents.
- There is no significant relationship that exists between sexuality educations on sexual abuse among adolescents.
1.6 Significance of Study
This study is of immense value to the researcher as a student of Master of Guidance and counselling. It will enable him to understand and appreciate the issues and problems involved in sexual abuse. The emotional, social and physical development of adolescents has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why we have to understanding the need to invest in adolescents is so important, so as to maximize their future well-being. Thus, the importance of this study lies in its ability to bring out factors that influence, as well as factors that can hinder sexuality education and development in adolescents.
Also, the government especially at the federal level will through this study understand that budgetary allocations given to education is inadequate and may have a change of policy or a rethink on the issue of budgeting allocation to education in Nigeria. The study was an important reference material to new researchers, students and the general public as well.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study covered differential gender perception of sexual abuse among adolescents in secondary schoolsin Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Health challenges and sourcing of good materials posed as hindrance to the timely completion of this study.
1.9 Operational Definition of Terms
This is a male and female view towards event or behaviour.
WHO (1989) defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 19
This is the event by boy or girl in sexual act.
Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Discussion of Findings
Perception of Sexual Abuse
Higher institutions of learning are expected to provide learning and working environments wherein all members of academic communities (students and academic) may pursue their studies, scholarship and work without bias or intimidation. The specter of sexual abuse is inimical to this end.
Results from the study showed that almost all the respondents (96.8%) had knowledge of sexual abuse as any verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature that is offensive, intimidating and humiliating. Moreover a large majority (95.2%) are of the opinion that a victim of sexual abuse could be male or female, also 91.2% of respondents perceived that sexual abuse occur and is common in the nursing school environment. These finding is similar to that of Menon, Shilalukey-Ngoma, Siziya, Ndubani, Musepa, Malungo, Munalula, Mwela and Serpell (2009) who reported high knowledge and perception of sexual abuse among respondents and that the occurrences of sexual abuse have been reported at both workplace and in education institutions.
Prevalence of Sexual Abuse Among Students
One hundred and forty-five of the respondents representing 58.0% had reportedly been sexually harassed at one time or the other. This consists of 29 males (20.0%) and 116 females (80.0%).
Although the behavioural expression of sexual abuse may be culturally determined, occurrence of sexual abuse at Universities is universal (Denga and Denga, 2004; Hill and Silva, 2005. An American study that included a nationwide representation of population reported that sexual abuse is experienced by most campus students and that men and women are equally likely to experience sexual abuse. But, more female participants were occasionally worried of being sexually harassed, where as more male participants were rarely worried about being sexually harassed at (Simelane,, 2001) UNZA. This is in order with studies which report that more female students at institutions of higher education are likely to experience sexual abuse. sexual abuse can be considered to be a manifestation of unequal power between men and women (Simelane, 2001; Fitzgerald, 1993; Fitzgerald, 1992). In conformity to other studies males are the most likely perpetuators of sexual abuse. However, there have also been studies that have reported that males are frequent victims of sexual abuse. Many times women are also blamed for not reporting the sexual abuse as soon as it happens, no matter how well-respected a woman is, if she fails to report sexual abuse-or if she does report it- her status of a ‘respectable woman’ in the community generally (Fitzgerald, 1992) suffers. But it cannot be underestimated that sexual abuse has an impact on the individual.
Consequences of Sexual Abuse
Findings from the study showed that the common consequences or the effect of sexual abuse on students or victims in the higher institution are hatred towards the perpetrator, having feeling of depression over the incident (80.8%), inability to concentrate on study/academic (68.0%), fear of going to where the incident happened(74.8%) and experienced failure in academic (56.6%). As mentioned by the respondents, the degree of effect differs from person to person. The finding is in line with the study of the American Association of University Women [AAUW] (2006) where they reported physical and emotional effects from sexual abuse on female students: 68% of female students felt very or somewhat upset by sexual abuse they experienced, 6% were not at all upset, 57% of female students who have been sexually harassed reported feeling self-conscious or embarrassed, 55% of female students who have been sexually harassed reported feeling angry and 32% female students who have been sexually harassed reported feeling afraid or scared.
Coping Strategies Against Sexual Abuse
The nature many people here is that reservation about sexuality and unwanted sexual conduct. Nearly all students would have seen sexually harassing behaviours—as well as violent assault and rape—on television, in magazines, or in movies. However, most students do not or would not want to discuss their personal experiences with sexual abuse openly. Finding from the study show that about one third of the respondents would report such incidence to school authority, listen to music to soothe the feeling, talk to a pastor/imam, talk to a lecturer about the incidence, identify situation that is likely to lead to sexual abuse and avoid such in the future, break any relationship with the perpetrator of sexual abuse and engaged in verbal confrontation with the abuser.
This is in contrast with the findings of Hill and Silva (2005) reported that about a quarter of female students and 44 percent of male students who have encountered sexual abuse have never told anyone. Dealing with sexual abuse in a contradictory culture is a challenge for any institution. For instance, for colleges and universities—which are simultaneously home, workplace, and learning environment—drawing the line is especially challenging. Nevertheless, dealing with sexual abuse on campus is essential to ensure a safe and welcoming educational climate for all students. Cogin and Fish (2009) also support to Hill and Silva findings that those who are sexually harassed display common coping strategies:, i.e. indirect expression of anger, denial or minimization of the incident, and compliance; as well as feelings of powerlessness, aloneness, fright, humiliation, and incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (Willness, Steel and Kibeom, 2007). Madison, Hamlin and Hoffman (2002) examined the experiences of perioperative nurses and reported that sexual abuse, sexual intimidation, physical assault, and verbal abuse accounted for 45 percent of all traumatic events reported by perioperative nurses and was a significant source of occupational stress.
sexual abuse has been found to be prevalent among secondary school students inIkorodu, with the females being the predominant recipients. The act which is of various types occurs at different places within the school environment and it is perpetrated by predominantly male harassers. A number of factors have been identified as predisposing victims to experiencing sexual abuse. The study revealed that institutions of higher learning still have a lot to do to foster a campus climate that is free from bias and harassment so that all students will have equal opportunity to safety and then excel in higher education. As this research documents, higher institution students including those in School of Nursing experience some type of sexual abuse while at school, ranging from unwanted sexual remarks to forced sexual contact, these experiences cause students, especially female students, to feel upset, uncomfortable, angry, and disappointed in their school experience, some find it difficult to concentrate on their academics or experience academic failure . In response, students avoid places on campus, changetheir schedules, drop classes or activities, or otherwise change their lives to avoid sexual abuse. Many institutions of higher learning have no policies in place, this makes sexual abuse to continue to have a damaging impact on the educational experiences of many students.
Based on the inferences drawn from the study, issues of sexual abusein the schools have to be dealt with all determination and sincerity. This may suggest the need fora deliberate policy to address sexual abuse. With a sexual harassment policy that is widely circulated the academic community will be able to understand that the school will not tolerate sexual abuse and know that sexual harassment is illegal and is against policy. They will also know where to get professional help.
The challenges and recommendations based on the findings of this study are as follow:
Proper legal definition of what constitutes sexual abuse is needed:
Although the respondents provided an understanding of sexual abuse that was close to the universally acceptable definition, it is still important that all the relevant documents each school should have a clear definition of the same and clear cut information about, and implication of perpetrating sexual abuse should be made available to all stakeholders within the school environment.
A clear school policy on sexual abuse is essential as secondary schools still lags behind in developing a sexual abuse policy.
Clearly defined structures to report cases of sexual abuse should be established and empowered. As already discussed in the findings, the current structures of the school disciplinary committees have proved ineffective in relation to dealing with issues of sexual abuse. secondary schools community doesn‘t trust the current set-up and hence it will not have a long term impact in curbing harassment. Employers and employees should clearly communicate that sexual abuse will not be tolerated. They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Basic training regarding sexual abuse is highly essential, the culture of silence‘, fear of reprisals and fear of being labeled by the college community (stigmatization) should be ameliorated. There is need for a strong political will amongst stakeholders of nursing education to debate over this issue and find lasting solutions to it as it has constituted major reasons why sexual abuse is on the increase in the school environment
An effective guidance and counseling service within the school environment could help to assist students to find solutions to educational, social, psychological, emotional as well as health problems in the school environment. So there is a dare need to put this in place as it has never been in practice in secondary schools.
There is also need for advocacy. Of importance is the role of concerned local and foreignorganizations and governmentagencies to organize periodic empowerment programmes aimed at reducing incidence of sexual abuse and building effective copping strategies and skills against sexual abuse for students and others in the academic environment.
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