Impact Of Cultism On Psychosocial Adjustment Of Students In Secondary Schools

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Impact Of Cultism On Psychosocial Adjustment Of Students In Secondary Schools


This study investigated impact of cultism on psychosocial adjustment of students in secondary schools in Lagos State, Nigeria. The population of the study comprised all the 811 students and 13,533 students in all the secondary schools in Lagos state. 372 respondents made up of 170 students and 202 students were used as sample. The instrument for data collection was a questionnaire. Four research questions and two hypotheses guided the study. The research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation while ‘t’ test statistics tested the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The major findings show that factors leading to student cultism include adolescent’s developmental problems, ban on student’s unionism, societal corruption and inadequate use of counselling services.

The psychosocial problems include spending extra years before graduation, stealing, disruption of social/recreational activities, untimely death and termination of Educational career. Measures for controlling cult activities include encouraging students to join religious groups, prohibiting the sale and consumption of intoxicating drugs, using guidance/counsellors, humiliating publicly cult members and legal action against them. Based on the findings, recommendations for implementation include government taking tougher measures on student cultists and school authorities beefing up the security department and equipping them adequately.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the study

Cultism is one of the most dangerous social vices which have plagued the Nigerian institutions of higher learning for decades. This menace of cultism in our tertiary institutions has left the schools, academic and non- academic staff and students vulnerable in the hands of cultists within and outside the school campus.

Cultism is derived from the word “cultus” which means “care” “Adoration”. To the sociologist of religion, the term is used to describe a loosely known organization not characterized by tolerance and open minded in matter of belief and practice, while in the media, and everyday conversation, the word suggests a spurious, secretive, sinister and harmful group. Albatross (2006).The first cult group in Nigeria campus was the pirate confraternity founded in 1952 in the then University college Ibadan now University of Ibadan. The confraternity was founded as a resistance to government decision to run a rail road behind the campus grounds. This confraternity was devoid of any harmful characteristics as seen in today confraternities.

Opaluwah (2000) opined that the pirate confraternity was formed to end tribalism and elitism and not harm, maim or kill and destroy as seen in contemporary confraternities in our campuses. The club therefore became an elite club only for the cleanest, brightest and politically conscious. They tele guided political events and held important positions within the student body such as president, chief judge, public relations officer and secretary. Their existence was well known by the students and was not associated with weird harmful spiteful character of latter-day confraternities. He concluded that over the years due to doctrinal differences and inability of intending members to meet the required standards of the pirate, protestant ones began to emerge.

As against the background of the formation of the pirate, contemporary confraternities are known for violence and bizarre behaviours such as armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms, illicit sexual escapades, killing of innocent students, academic and non- academic staff, arson, extortion, threats, physical attacks, blackmail and other inhuman practices, factional struggle and war of supremacy culminating in bloody clashes between cult groups. Jakayinfa (2008)Muyiwa (2004) noted the following as activities of present day confraternities Cult activities always in the night, nocturnal initiation ceremonies in which initiates are animalized and some die in the process, making blood covenants and performing other occultic rituals, organized opposition against any form of oppression real or imagined, liberal consumption of alcohol, use of drugs, intimidation and use of violence, sexual abuse and rape, maiming, man slaughter and murder, Examination malpractice, stealing and armed robbery.

From all Opaluwah (2000), Jakayinfa (2008) and Muyiwa (2004) stated about contemporary confraternities, it would be deduced that cult members exhibit bizarre, hostile, violent and aggressive behaviour.

· Aggressive Behaviour: According to Wikipedia, (2016) aggressive behaviour is a type of social behaviour that can potentially cause or threaten physical or emotional harm. People who suffer from aggressive behaviour are most likely to be irritable, impulsive, and restless hence why this kind of behaviour can range from verbal abuse to damaging victim’s properties. Aggressive behaviour is always deliberate and occurs either habitually or in a pattern. Causes of aggressive behaviour could be due to issues of, Family structure, Relationships, Work or school environment, health conditions, and psychiatry.

Violent Behaviour:

An individual that threatens or physically harm another individual is classified as having violent behaviour. It usually starts with verbal abuse but then escalates to physical harm such as hitting or hurting.Violent behaviour is similar to aggressive behaviour. It is either habitually or occurs in a pattern. The concept of violent behaviour is very simple, at first there is tension and conflicts. This is then followed by either destruction of the individual properties or abuse.

Violent behaviour is alsoseen as an overt and intentional physically aggressive behaviour against another person among students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria due to cultism. He went further to state that gangsterism and victimization is rampant in the system.

In corroboration with the above, Bayode (2005) commenting on prevalence of peer victimization among secondary school students defined peer victimization as the experience among children of being a target of aggressive behaviour of other children who are not siblings and not necessarily age mates. (Hawker and Boulton, 2000), Smith (1991) described the act as an unprovoked attack that causes hurt of a psychological, social, or physical nature. Olweus (1994) stated that peer victimization occurs when a student is exposed repeatedly and overtime, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students. These actions are not necessarily provoked by the victim and for such actions to be regarded as peer victimization; an imbalance in real or perceived power must exhist between the victim and the peer who victimizes him or her. (Coloroso, 2002) Peer victimization takes two major forms. Sometimes it could be physical as in fighting, punching, pushing, kicking, hitting, strangling, beating, physical assault and direct vandalism. (Hanish and Guerra, 2000; Hawker and Boulton 2000).

More often, peer victimization, takes a non- physical form. Non –physical victimization includes a wide range of behaviour such as verbal abuse, (Rigby, 1996), hurtful name-calling, emotional intimidation, persistent teasing, gossip and racist remarks as well as social exclusion (Mishna, 2003, Olweus, (1978, 1993; Rigby, 1996) stated that students who are victims of peer victimization, are at the risk of developing severe psycho-social adjustment and emotional problems which may persist into adulthood. Hawker and Boulton (2000) concluded that students who are victimized by peers suffer a variety of feelings of psychosocial distress. They feel more anxious, depressed, lonely and worse about themselvesthan do non-victims. On the demographic correlates of peer victimization, gender and age factors are given prominence by researchers. Most research findings on the relationship between age and peer victimization tend to conclude that bullying behaviour is more prevalent among younger children than the older ones. (Nansel, 2001, Crick, Casas and Ku, 1999, Sourander, 2000).

However, research findings appear to be inconclusive on the peer victimizing experiences peculiar to different age categories of such children. Research findings have not been consistent on the relationship between gender and peer victimization. While researchers such as Olweus (1994), Nansel (2001) and Crick and Grotpeter (1996) found that boys report significantly more overt victimization than do girls, evidence from others such as Crick and Gropeter (1995) and Crick, Casas, and Ku (1999) suggested that girls report significantly more relational victimization or socially hurtful behaviour than do boys.

The term psychosocial according to the medical dictionary, refers to the psychological and social factors that influences mental health. Social influences such as peer pressure, parental support, cultural and religious background, socio economic status and inter-personal relationshipsall help to shape personality and influence psychological make-up.Individuals with psychosocial disorders frequently have difficulty functioning in social situations and may haveproblems effectively communicating to others.

Ohuakanwa (2011) described psychosocial adjustment as the quantity of harmony which students experience in their personal and interpersonal behaviours. It also refers to the ability of students to actively go through school, interacting with other members of school without fear of losing self in the process so as to actualize the essence of schooling in the face of turbulent social environmental issues, personal and interpersonal that may tend to create barriers. It can simply be said to be a student ability to be actively integrated into the school to be able to achieve the essence of school and avoiding negative tendencies that may negate achievement of healthy outcomes in school. This means that the student should be able to relate cordially with others, be friendly and be smart in making good friends, should be able to establish intimate relationships without losing self, should be able to enjoy the love and encouragement of parents and siblings, he should also enjoy adequate teachers and administrative consultation so as to allow adequate integration. When a student is able to strike such balance in school he achieves adequate psychosocial adjustment that engenders the actualization of healthy outcomes in all aspects of life within and outside the school.

According to Hendriksen and Schrans (2008) psychosocial adjustment can be defined as the adaptive task of managing upsetting feelings and frustrations. They identified six domains of psychosocial adjustment which are; peer relations, dependency, hostility, productivity, anxiety and depression and withdrawal.

It is against this background that this study was faced with the problem of validating the impact of cultism on psychosocial adjustment of secondary school students in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State. The problem of the study put in a question form is: What impact does cultism have on the psychosocial adjustment of secondary school students?

1.2 Statement of the problem

Over the years, there have been reported cases of violence and other anti-social behaviour exhibited by cultists in our institutions of higher learning. These have metamorphosed into cases of violent aggression, victimization, bullying, rape, threat to lives and destruction of school facilities. As a result of this, researchers in the educational sector have gone into investigation to determine the causes of these violence and anti-social behavior displayed by cultists.

Hawkins (1998) while commenting on cultists, opined that to avoid emotional distress, they (cultists) display their anger on others through violent acts of aggression. They engage in frequent fights and violence. They also use alcohol and drugs to blunt their feelings so that no act will seem too bad for them to perpetuate.

Egbochukwu (2009) in assessing the problems of cultists asserted that they (cultists) are apprehensive, highly irritable, irresponsible, dishonest and insincerity of purpose and lies characterize them.

Therefore this study tends to investigate to ascertain whether cultism is a major determinant of some of the anti-social behaviour exhibited by cultists.

1.3 Purpose of the study

The main purpose of the study is to examine the impact of cultism on the psychosocial adjustment of students in secondary schools.

The specific objectives are;

  1. To examine the impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students
  2. To ascertain the impact of cultism on the psychological adjustment of secondary school students.
  3. To determine gender difference on the impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students.
  4. To ascertain whether there will be a difference due to age on the impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students?
  2. Does cultism have any impact on the psychological adjustment of students?
  3. Will there be any gender difference on the impact of cultism on social adjustment of students in secondary school?
  4. Will there be any age difference on the impact of cultism on the psychological adjustment of students in secondary school?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

  1. There is no significant impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students.
  2. There is no significant impact of cultism on psychological adjustment of secondary school students.
  3. There will be no significant gender difference on the impact of cultism on social adjustment of secondary school students.
  4. There will be no significant difference due to age on the impact of cultism of student’s psychological adjustment.

1.6 Significance of the study

The result of this findings will be of benefit to students in the sense that it will make them thoughtful in choosing groups to associate with within and outside the school and it will also make them very careful to accept gifts and invitations to social functions knowing that these are some of the means through which cults entices and initiates their prospective recruits.

The result of the study will also equip teachers with information of cult tactics and activities. Thereby helping them to identify students’ move towards cultism and stopping such move.

Guidance counselors will also benefit from the result of this study because it will help them to understand the depth of cult involvement and the psychological harm it has caused victims and how to go about the management.

The result of this study will also benefit school administrators, parents, researchers, government and co-operate bodies. The study will be beneficial to school administrators because it will help them to understand better the causes of some of the behaviours exhibited by these students and how to help them overcome the emotional outburst they display through group or individual counseling, dramas on the adverse effects of cultism on individuals, orientation for new entrants into the school and posters placed on notice boards within the school. The findings of the study will also be beneficial to the academic community as a whole, since it is a research effort and reference material.

Parents will also benefit from the study because it will provide them with an in depth knowledge of the level of cult involvement and the psychological harm it has caused their wards. Such awareness will enhance their advisory role performance to their wards on the consequences of associating with cultists. Parents will also become more co-operative with the appropriate authorities in the handling of issues of secret cults in schools.

Based on the results of the study, the State Government will be able to pass bills on the consequences of involvement in cultism in schools and also in planning and formulating Educational policies and providing adequate study equipment and environment conducive for teaching and learning as well as recreational facilities in our schools which in turn necessitates the attainment of school objectives.

1.7 Scope of the study

The study is aimed at examining the impact of cultism on the psychosocial adjustment of students in secondary schools. It will cover students of five selected secondary schools in Education District II of Lagos State.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms


An extreme religious group that is not part of an established religion.


A kind of gang behaviour that is contrary to the accepted norms and values of the larger society and is characterized by oath-taking, secrecy and violence.

Psychosocial Adjustment:

Psychosocial adjustment refers to the relationship between the individual and their world, as well as to the individual’s unique perceptions of their place within that world.

Psychological Adjustment:

Psychological adjustment reflects the relative adaptation of an individual to changing environmental conditions.

Social adjustment:

An effort made by an individual to cope with standards, values and needs of a society in order to be accepted.

Secondary school:

A School for children who are between the ages of eleven and sixteen/eighteen year.


Someone studying at a school (university)


The sum of biological characteristics by which male and female and other organisms are distinguished.


The number of years someone has lived or something has existed.

Chapter Five

Summary Of Findings, Conclusion And Recommendation

In this chapter, the researcher presented the discussion of results of the study, conclusion, implications of the findings, recommendations and limitations of the study. The discussion was based on the research questions and hypotheses that guided the study.

5.1 Summary of the findings

The results of the analysis of data generated reveals the following findings:

  1. That factors leading to students cultism are adolescents developmental problems, ban on students unionism, societal corruption, inadequate use of counselling services, quest for power, unqualified academic qualification, gender associated power, poor home brought up, sponsoring of secret cult and children of elites wanting to maintain links.
  2. That psychosocial problems associated with secret cult activities are spending extra years before graduation, falsification or mutilation of official records, destroying facilities, stealing, disruption of social/recreational activities, public being restrained from movement, avoiding night lectures/prep by students, untimely death, and termination of educational career.
  3. There was no mean influence based on institution type on their perception of factors that lead to students cultism.

Measures for controlling cult activities are disciplinary of wards, encouraging students to join religious groups as well as extra-curricular activities, prohibiting the sale and consumption of intoxicating drugs, referring cult members to guidance counsellors, censoring press and literature publications on cult activities, torturing and humiliating publicly cult members, convicting members, making academic programme more rigorous, and using high percentage of class attendance for examination.

5.2 Conclusion

Based on the findings, it is concluded that:

  1. Campus cults are motivated by some factors associated with adolescent, extension of societal corruption, lack of adequate counselling service, sponsorship of secret cults by some individuals/old standing members.
  2. Activities of campus cults also adversely have some impact on some education parameters. These include students, students, facilities and human activities in the school.
  3. That the volatility of students is aided by the deterioration of the higher education institution in terms of infrastructure, academic standard and quality of students that is to say if students have good academic environment, the tendency towards crises would be reduced.
  4. As regard to the control measures of campus cult and their activities, there is need to refer them to guidance and counselling unit, registering all societies in the school, organize periodic counselling for all students, caution, suspension, expulsion, public torture and jailing members who are caught.
  5. There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students and students with regards to the factors that lead to students’ secret cultism in secondary schools in Lagos state.
  6. There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students and students with regards to the psychosocial problems associated with cult activities in secondary schools in Lagos state.

5.3 Implications of the Study

Results of the study on factors that motivate the occurrence of these cults in our higher institutions implicated students, parents, homes, Guidance Counsellors, the school authorities, government and members of the society at large. There is the need for each of these people to check their lapses and check if the problem of campus cults is to be solved.

The study also revealed that activities of campus cults have adverse effects on students and students, facilities and human activities. In a situation whereby a student is demoralized, inefficiency will rule and in effect the quality of education will be affected definitely. Also, a condition where students study under fear of being attacked by members of secret cults learning will hardly be acquired. Some students are injured, learning will hardly be meaningful and permanent. When students members do not attend lecture regularly and night hour lectures which are usually fixed to make up for uncovered lessons are shelved, students will find it difficult to cover their course outline or the curriculum which at the long run will affect the quality of education. Destruction of facilities will lead too shortage of working materials for practical studies which might lead to poor acquisition of psychomotor skills.

The attainment of the goals of higher education as spelt out in the National Policy on Education (1981); will be frustrated if these cults and their activities are not controlled. Efforts to control them therefore will require the application of the findings on appropriate measures of control of campus cults and this must be backed up with findings on factors that lead to campus cults.

5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Parents should learn to love and discipline their children at home from childhood. Parents should also support school and government authorities in their efforts to check the menace of campus cults.
  2. The school authorities should beef up the security department and equip them with modern/sophisticated tools and also uphold the truth and be more sincere when handling campus cult issues.
  3. The school authorities should allow all clubs and societies in the school to register with them and highlight their objectives.
  4. At the beginning of every session, the guidance and counselling department should be assisted to organize an elaborate orientation programme for all new students; and during this programme, the ills of cultism should be spelt out and students cautioned not to identify with them.
  5. Students should make attendance to lecture compulsory and also take record of class attendance of students who fail to meet up the minimum percentage of attendance should not be allowed to do the examination, this will help to check other students.

5.5 Limitations of the Study

The possibility that some of the respondents may not be honest with their responses may affect the result. However, the number of the responses were good enough for meaningful generalization of the result.

5.6 Suggestions for further study:

The following studies could be carried out at state or national level.

  1. Comparative perception of students and students on the factors that lead to students’ secret cultism in tertiary institutions.
  2. Effect of school location on effective management of campus cultism.
  3. Extent of bias on the psychosocial problems associated with secret cult activities in secondary schools in Lagos state.

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