societal determinants of risky sexual behaviour among secondary school adolescents


This study investigated the societal determinants of risky sexual behaviour among secondary school adolescents in Obollo-Afor Education Zone of Enugu State. Five research questions and two hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Data were obtained through questionnaires as measuring instrument. The population was to cover all the secondary schools in Obollo- Afor Education Zone but due to the fact that it has wide range scope, sample and sampling technique was adopted which gave rise to six secondary schools. Later stratified random sampling was used to get three hundred students. The data collected were analyzed using mean(x) score.t-test statistics was adopted in testing the hypotheses. From the findings, it was discovered that what constitutes risky sexual behaviours among adolescents include indulging in sexual acts because others are doing it, watching of pornographic films and pictures, having unprotected sexual intercourse, among others. The findings also revealed that the societyal factors that influence adolescents risky sexual behaviours include having friends that indulge in risky sexual behaviours, excessive intake of alcohol, lack of discipline in schools, watching of bad films, parents inability to meet their children’s needs, the urge for material gratification. The findings equally showed that the strategies adopted by parents, teachers and counselors to address the issue of risky sexual behaviours among adolescents are passing relevant information on sexual issues during morning assembly, stopping adolescents from watching pornographic films, pasting photographs on the damaging effects of risky sexual behaviours and the inclusion of sex education in the school curriculum. Recommendations, educational implications and suggestions for further studies were made by the research.



Background of the study

Sexual promiscuity is the act of indulging or having sexual intercourse with several causal acquaintances. According to Wehmeier (2000) sexual promiscuity means having many sexual partners. Misi (2008) opines that sexual promiscuity is the use of ones body for the purpose of remuneration or consideration of any form. It could also be addressed as prostitution. This is the type of service given by ladies who want money or who are desperate to attain some certain levels of prosperity (Osoba, 2005). Observations by the researchers have shown that many female students in tertiary institutions are in this practice. According to them, it is more lucrative now as a student in the campus because men no longer patronize brothels and street prostitutes rather they prefer students. The campus situation is so bad to the extent that professional prostitutes are hail bent to gain admission into higher institutions. Olugbile, Abu and Adelakun (2008) opined that sexual promiscuity is very rampant in our Universities and the average campus has several networks. Most of these students stand outside their hostels and halls to solicit for business. The hardened ones who see their campuses as too boring do not operate inside the University campuses. They brazenly take their trade directly to their customers at night to nearby cities, clubs or hot spots that would give them maximum exposure to men who will like to patronize them. However, the reader may wonder why promiscuity would be flourishing inside university campuses under the very nose of the staff and security agents. One of the reasons the researchers believe is that the university authorities have failed to strike the right balance between ensuring students‟ liberty and enforcement of existing campus codes of conduct. This is based on the premise that the students are adults that should be able to take care of themselves independent of their parents. In addition to this, Uzokwe (2008) posited that with unbridled liberty and freedom the students began to push the limits of acceptable behaviour, taking advantage of freedom bestowed on them as “adults”.

At this point, one would ask, what is the actual cause of sexual promiscuity or prostitution among our female undergraduates? According to Uzokwe (2008), one of the causes is dereliction of parental responsibilities. Many years ago, families in Nigeria put a lot of premium on morality, honour and character. Parents took time to bequeath same to their wards during their formative years. There were injunctions and periodic denial of basic necessities for doing things that impinge the family name. Vices like promiscuity, stealing and the like when displayed by a member of the family are capable of soiling the family image. No family would want to be blacklisted or blackmailed so parents paid serious attention to the moral and social welfare of their children, at times taking corrective actions when bad behaviours were detected. Compare this day to the ages past, certain behaviours that would repulse people no longer do. The reverse seems to be the case. On the other hand, teachers these days no longer play the invaluable traditional roles they used to. They are no longer character builders because children have grown „wings and tails‟. These children, especially the female ones, feel they have the protection of their parents and or boy friends. Consequently, young girls go through school exhibiting signs of unacceptable behaviour which metamorphose into bigger issues in future with no one to stop or correct them. Eventually, those who find their ways into the universities end up continuing on a larger scale what they started in secondary schools. Again, Olugbile (2008) wrote that peer influence is everywhere in the campus where everyone wants to be like others and end up prostituting. The bad girls that embrace prostitution gradually corrupt the more conservative ones. If for example one person had three cell phones, flashy clothes, another wants to do same or more. For those who are probably not from very rich homes they are forced to do otherwise. Furthermore, some universities are not helping matters. Their fees are so much that it is hard to understand where they expect the students to get the money from. Being in a precarious condition, they turn to prostitution based on the fact that they are looking for money to settle their school bills. Equally, Misi (2008) also pointed out that the politicians and government officials are not left out in the cause of female students‟ sexual promiscuity. According to him, anytime these politicians and government officials visit the university town on official work, the pimps recruit for them young university girls for their relaxation and entertainment, at the end of which they settle them with huge sums of ill gotten money (Olubgogega, 2008). Due to the fact that the girls glorify wealth, some of them therefore do what it takes to belong by taking to promiscuity.

On the issue of the effect of sexual promiscuity on healthy living, Janice (2008) intimated that sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis, Candida, herpes virginalis and worst of all HIV/AIDS are alarmingly high among girls who are sexually promiscuous. Drugs like cocaine, marijuana and alcohol are used most frequently by these girls at the expense of their health. They are also mostly under the influence of “psychotropic drugs” that put them in a state of fearlessness and shamelessness. In the same vein, Gultmacher (1988) opined that most cases of infertility are caused by being promiscuous thereby being infested by numerous infected customers or acquaintances. Most female or male infertility, he added, can be attributed to husbands or wives who patronize sex hawkers and bring home infections and sexually transmitted diseases. In what becomes a vicious cycle, infertility may lead to divorce and in some cases the abandoned wife goes into prostitution as a means of survival. Again, physical injuries and bruises may also lead to general break down in health condition. Furthermore, most of the girls in this practice are sometimes physically assaulted by their “purchasers” who might be acting under the influence of hard drugs (Janice, 2008).

The syndrome of moral decadence has eaten up the norms, values and dedications which had been the culture of the society for years past. In the world today, the moral standard is no longer what it used to be even here in Nigeria. The moral legacy of our forefathers has been eroded by western civilization and culture. James (2004) had lamented that it is pathetic and alarming to note today that the world is fast turning upside down. He noted also that what we used to know about virtue, morality, respect among others, is fast fading out amongst youth (adolescents) in the society.

Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood (maturity).It is a time in a person’s life when he or she develops from a child into an adult. This period of development poses a lot of problems such as moodiness, rebellion, sad loss of childhood innocence, loss of interest in parental upbringing. to the young adult, the home, the school and the entire society (Ezeh 2005). Adolescence is also a time when risks of sexual and other forms of abuse, exploitation and violence are high, and when the drive for autonomy and self-definition often means a reduced reliance on parents and other adults as trusted sources of guidance and support (Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick, 2000). They further stated that it is a real fact when it comes to sensitive areas such as sexual and reproductive health and gender relations. According to Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick (2000) the period may be long or short depending on the traditional or modern outlook or background of the adolescent. They further noted that the period of the adolescence in traditional setting is shorter; but in modern setting it is longer. Adolescent as noted by Hornby (2000) is a youngster, young person, a teenager .Adolescents are young people who are developing from childhood into adulthood; they are usually between the ages of 13 and 18. This is an exciting and bewilding age but everyone passes this period with different experiences not just because of individual differences but because of ethnic and cultural differences we belong to. Goleman (2005) is of the same opinion that “countries, cultures and traditions want what is best for their young generation; besides, adolescence may be viewed differently from one community or culture to the next”. Furthermore, the changes in adolescents may be smooth or fraught with problems, but in-spite of the cultural differences, the biological changes from childhood into mature adulthood capable of reproduction is common (Aggleton, et al 2000). As they noted above, different cultures or countries determine when the period of adolescence will terminate. In Nigeria context for instance, the period of adolescence is very brief and it ends when there is biological maturity and when certain responsibilities are undertaken by the adolescents or by the families on their behalf. The modern way is more precise, the period tends to coincide generally with the secondary school year or age from 11-18 years old plus. The broad interest in the adolescence period is marked with necessity to understand the adolescents, yet there are numerous indications that adolescents are not well understood by significant figures who are meant to assist them such as parents, teachers and counselors among others. According to Anda, Edwards, Felittic and Holden (2003), adolescents who were abused and neglected during childhood by adults often exhibit offensive behaviours. Parents who fail to appreciate and recognize the personality of their adolescents usually see them as rebellious (Wisdom, 2006). Many adults seem to be unaware of their adolescents‟ emotional and physical needs, as well as a general appreciation of the changes and adjustment they undergo. In the same way, adolescents are in turn faced with challenges of not understanding themselves. Adults should recognize, accept and appreciate adolescents for whom they are and as well understand the true nature of adolescents and not to see adolescence as a period of storm and stress. Ibe (2000) supported that the sudden changes adolescents experience in their bodies often constitute a stress in them because they are not aware of the biological or physiological changes. This ignorance could lead to risky sexual behaviours if not properly guided by the adults.

Broadly speaking, sexual behaviours are all those things we “do” such as kissing, hugging, erotic touch among others that we consider sexual. These might be things we do with others like kissing, erotic touch, intercourse, oral sex, anal sex and manual sexual stimulation (Robinson, 2009). They are also sexual things we do when we are alone like masturbation (Robinson 2009). Also sexual behaviour is any activity-solitary between two persons, or in a group that induces sexual arousal (Safra & Collinge,2011).Sexual behaviour can equally refer to all actions and responses related to pleasure seeking. It is an individual‟s ability to experience or express sexual feelings (Abah and Echodu, 2004). Moreover, sexual behaviour refers to the total action of individuals in handling their sexual impulses by way of how these impulses are felt, how to control it, how strong is the effect of the impulse, the notion of expressing it as a male or female and how to live with it (Eyo, 2004).

Sexual behaviour could be healthy or risky. Risky sexual behaviour is any sexual activity that increases the risk of contracting Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) or other Sexually Transmitted Infections ( STIs) or becoming pregnant. Risky sexual behaviours includes early sexual debut, unprotected sexual activity, inconsistent use of condoms, high risk partners(injection drug users), survival sex-(sex in exchange for money, drugs, food or shelter) or sex with a partner who has other partners or more than one partner at a time(Aral, 2004, and Haffner, 2005). Risky sexual behaviour is the major factor in the rising rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Adolescents typically have high STIs rates than other groups with the highest rates of gonorrhea between the ages of 15-19 years (Aral and Haffner 2005). Risky sexual behaviour is a matter of concern with STIs, as it is now well documented that STIs have a co-factor role in HIV transmission. Adolescents who participate in risky sexual behaviours are at risk for STIs including HIV and Black Hispand among others (Andrew, 2007). Highlighting more on the prevalence of teenage pregnancy as risky sexual behaviour, Akinyemi (2010) says that “the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in any given society leads to high level of illiteracy”. Akinyemi added that it leads to a redundant and unenlightened society. The most current issue is the deadly HIV and AIDS virus that has been ravaging everywhere in the world including Nigeria. The worst of it is that adolescents are the chief shareholders of this menace.

Many people in Nigeria seem to be ignorant of this problem which is eating deep down into the fabrics of the Nigeria adolescents. Atimes, issues concerning the Nigerian adolescents are being discussed without enough concern given to it thus leading to an upsurge in the level of harm done. One keeps wondering what could be responsible for this licentious life style of adolescents. Is it society or the genetic make-up of individuals that constitute this life style of adolescents.

The word society in this context stands for any conditions outside the individual which could affect their behaviour and development. Society has facilitated the development of risky sexual behaviours among young adults (Ambert,2005). According to Clifford (2008) society refers to all the complex factors, other than genetic which influences the individual’s physiological, sociological and psychological growth from time of conception to death. From this contribution, society is a strong determinant factor that influences the development of the adolescent. The human being is never static, changes occur in all aspects of human life-physical, social, psychological and intellectual. In adolescence stage, these changes take place at different rates differently according to one’s society. If the society is favourable, the adolescent will develop maximally behaviourally, physiologically, sociologically and emotionally. But when the society is unfavourable, maladaptive behaviours sets in. Ngwoke and Eze (2012) stated clearly that irrespective of the controversy among developmental psychologists on whether heredity (nature) is more important than society (nurture) to human behaviour, there is a continuous interaction between the two factors. They further noted that functional development is the product of the interaction of the organism with its society. The implication here is that societyal factors may be issues in risky sexual behaviours. Society according to Einstein (2011) is everything that is not man. Einstein maintained that it is the sum total of all surrounding of a living organism, including natural forces and other living things, which provide conditions for development and growth as well as of danger and damage. Nevertheless Boring (2013) defined society as the sum total of all the external forces, influences and conditions, which affect the life, nature, behaviour and the growth, development and maturation of living organisms. Societyal determinant is considered as conditions that affect the behaviour and development of an individual (adolescent) and circumstances that happened within the time range. It is the forces and conditions that surround and influence living and non-living things (Sills, 2009).Lending credence to societyal influence, Anderson (2005) stated that both genetic and societyal dynamics are great determinant in one’s behavioural pattern. Further to Anderson’s view, there are joint contribution of nature and nurture occurring through three related processes: the genetic inheritance, the society and the socio-cultural society on a child’s nature. Society could be anything outside an organism. In other words, those external factors could react negatively or positively in an individual (adolescent).

Generally speaking, risky sexual behaviours are caused by a number of factors which may be either external or internal or a combination of both factors (Odigbo, 2011). It has also been observed by Odigbo that the influence of society is so strong and it should be pretence if we neglect the fact that these adolescents are being affected by what is happening in the society. Therefore, we should be mindful of what goes around them. The consequences of risky sexual behaviour is that it increases the likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted infection(STI), teen pregnancy and, low self esteem. Besides, the risk of unplanned pregnancy increases with frequency of unprotected sexual intercourse and in rare cases even death. It has been observed by Robinson (2009) that male adolescents were more likely than female adolescents to have had sex, to have initiated sex

before age 13, and to have had 4 or more sexual partners. Essien (2014) presented that high school adolescents aged between 12 and 16 are already involved in sexual relationship in their efforts to express sexual feelings. Their main source of information is the peer group. He maintained that there was extensive sexual awareness among adolescents and found no difference between urban and rural adolescents. The measures of enhancing healthy sexual behaviour among secondary school adolescents includes passing relevant information on sexual issues during morning assembly, discouraging them from watching pornographic and bad films and pasting photographs on the bulletin board to show the damaging effects of risky sexual behaviour. There has not been any research work on sexual promiscuity among Nigeria students and its implication for the society. A case study of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State.

We hear and see young people engage in risky sexual behaviours, so the research tends to know whether the society has any role to play towards the adolescents risky sexual behaviours.

Statement of the Problem

Owing to the fact that most of these female undergraduates move out with unknown clients, Uzokwe (2008) opined that they are easy tools in the hands of ritual killers and kidnappers. Further, when a woman accepts money for sex, she has conferred on the man the authority and power to decide what kind of sex to happen, she would be expected to endure brutality, rape and other crime against her behind closed door. The prevalence and sophistication in promiscuous behaviour of the female undergraduates as intimated by Olugbile and Uzokwe (2008) is enough to trigger a discourse. The researchers wonder if the female undergraduates are ignorant or lack awareness of the health implications of promiscuousness. The focus of the study is on the health implication of sexual promiscuity and the role of counseling in providing information services about its inherent health implications.

Sexual activities is so rampart and devastating such that adolescents engage in risky sexual behaviours either as a result of what they see around them, things they read from papers, movies they watch or from their peers and even what they copy from adults. From literature, it has been observed that today in the society, young people see adults having multiple sexual partners, engaging in sexual intercourse under the influence of alcohol and go scot-free and they equally follow suit; and ladies expose their nakedness in the name of fashion. Movies and television programmes usually lead the young minds of adolescents into emotional state that eventually change their behaviours into experimenting what they have

watched in televisions and movies with little or no knowledge of the risk involved.



This can seriously affect the adolescents‟ ability to concentrate on the pursuance of worthwhile goals. In view of the stated problem above, this study is faced with the problem of establishing validly societyal determinants of risky sexual behaviours among secondary school adolescents in Obollo-Afor Education Zone of Enugu State.


Purpose of the Study

Against this background, this study set out to:

–        Investigate the prevalence of sexual promiscuity among female students in tertiary institutions;

–        Find out the causes of sexual promiscuity among the female undergraduates.

–        The effect of this behaviour as an issue for healthy living is a concern.

–        Identify some consequences of the Nigeria Students risky sexual behaviours.

–        Identify some strategies for enhancing healthy sexual behaviours among Nigerian Students


Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be of significance to a number of persons in the society. It will be useful to adolescents, parents, counselors, educators, social workers, significant figures, teachers, successful implementation of Guidance and Counseling services, curriculum planners and prospective researchers. The findings from this study will be of significance to adolescents. It is hoped that the adolescents will understand themselves and be mindful of their actions to free themselves from dangers. Again, this study will serve as a means of self-appraisal for them with a view of assessing their deficiencies and seek for help from appropriate personnel. The findings of the study will benefit the parents, counselors, educators, social workers and care-givers by enabling them to realize their expected roles towards the upbringing of tomorrow’s leaders. When all hands are on deck, the rate of sexual promiscuity will reduce drastically in the society. Again all significant figures in the society should watch what they do because the young stars are watching and they learn through imitation. And that is making the society more conducive and free for adolescents to emulate good habits. The findings of this study will equally be of help to teachers as it will increase their awareness as regards the high rate of  sexual promiscuity among Nigerian Students and its implication for the society at large; how it affect them academically and psychologically and how to deal with such students in the school. The findings of this study will also be useful in the successful implementation of guidance and counseling services adopted in the schools in-terms of handling behavioural problem of students. Furthermore, it will equally help the curriculum planners to identify areas of weakness in curriculum content and be able to alleviate that weakness with the result of the findings. Finally, the findings of this study will be of help to prospective researchers in education, they will become aware of “sexual promiscuity  and its implication on the society and can get more facts that will help them in developing their research works.

Scope of the Study

The study is delimited to the views from Students of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti State. It is also limited to the implications for the society. It also as well has influence of gender, consequences and measures for enhancing healthy sexual behaviours.


Research Questions

Three research questions guided this study. They are:

  1. Does sexual promiscuity exist among students in tertiary institutions?
  2. What are the causes of sexual promiscuity among undergraduates?
  3. What are the effects of sexual promiscuity among students in tertiary institutions?


Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses guided the study and was tested at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. There is significant difference between sexual promiscuity among students in tertiary institutions.
  2. There is significant difference between causes of sexual promiscuity among undergraduates.
  3. There is a significant difference between effect of sexual promiscuity among students in tertiary institutions.










This chapter deals with the review of related literature and is presented under the following sub-headings

Conceptual framework

Theoretical framework

Review of Empirical Studies


Conceptual Framework

Concept of Sexual Promiscuity among Nigeria Students and its implication for the Society. A case study of College of Education, Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State.

Theoretical Framework

Alcohol Myopia Theory

Social Learning Theory

Theory of Psycho-Sexual Development

Review of Empirical Studies

Studies related to sexual attitudes of secondary school adolescents. Studies related to Sexuality Education. Study related to societal determinants of sexual promiscuity.

Summary of the Literature Reviewed


Conceptual Framework:

Concept of Society

The word society is synonymous to the society when mentioned, brings to mind the surroundings, the outer looks and the natural atmosphere. Surroundings in Layman’s understanding could be those things an organism may react upon and at the same time influence



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