THE EFFECT OF SEXUALITY EDUCATION ON SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
Background of the Study
Sexuality is a compelling aspect of being human. Sexual desires and reactions constitute a natural built-in-part of how our bodies work. In many studies, sexuality has been defined as a central aspect of being human throughout life (Lindy and Cowenhoven, 2001 & Action Health Incorporated (AHI), 2003). According to World Health Organization (WHO, 2002), sexuality encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Thus, sexuality refers to the totality of a human being. This includes a person’s experiences, thoughts, fantacies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships.
However, sexuality has five broad components, namely (1) human Development: This is characterized by the interrelationship between physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth. Examples are reproductive physiology and anatomy, growth and development and others. (2)Emotions and relationships which refer to the ability of and need by human beings to experience emotional closeness to others and have it returned. Examples can be seen in families, friendships, among others; (3)Sexual Health requires specific information, attitudes and actions one should have and display to avoid the unwanted consequences of sexual behaviour. It includes the care and maintenance of the sexual organs, attitudes and behaviours related to reproduction and health consequences of sexual behaviour, while (4)Sexual behaviour boarders on the variety of ways human beings express their sexuality. This includes masturbation, shared sexual behaviour, abstinence, human sexual response and fantasy (5)Sexual violence is concerned with an abusive or unjust use of power that has a sexual element or intent. Examples are sexual abuse and incest, rape, manipulation through sex and sexual harassment.
Based on the above definitions and descriptions, sexuality can be summed up as such a broad term encompassing many facets of who we are. In fact, sexuality is a process that evolves throughout our lives, an active inseparable part of who we are. Thus, in this study, sexuality means the totality of a person from cradle to grave, consisting of many interrelated factors, among which is sexual behaviour. Sexual behaviour is the various ways a human being experiences and expresses sexual pleasure with or without a partner. Through recent studies (sexuality Information and Education Council of United States (SIECUS) 2002, Ifelunni and Okorie 2003, Ezedum 2003, Action Health Incorporated’ 2005, Alisigwe 2006, Olujide 2009, Ugoji 2009 and others), data were gathered about the specific ways human beings including the young persons exhibit different levels of sexual behaviour. These include - Masturbation which is the stimulation of genitals, it can be engaged with a partner in form of mutual masturbation. Shared sexual behaviour involves having sexual activities with another person. Other forms of sexual behaviours are- stroking (hugging, touching, holding hands, kissing on the lips or other parts of the body), wearing of skimpy dresses (clothes that do not cover much of the body, alias sagging), sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal or oral) means the insertion of the erect penis into the vagina; abstinence means not engaging in all forms of sexual intercourse. Human sexual response refers to the body response of men and women to sexual stimulation, Sexual fantasy means performing various sex acts in different places or with different persons through the free play of imagination (day dreaming).
Sexual Dysfunction is a chronic inability to respond sexually in a way that one finds satisfying. Sexual identity is a person’s internalized conviction of his or her own status as a male or female. It also means a person’s sense of his/her orientation, feelings and attraction. Sexual Orientation is a person’s inner feelings of emotional and sexual attraction to others. (AHI,2003)
Sexual behaviour can also be the expressing of sexual feelings or actions to the opposite sex. It is called heterosexual behaviour. If it is to the same sex, it is called homosexual behaviour and when one expresses sexual feelings to both sexes, it is called bisexual behaviour. Transvestism is another form of sexual behaviour. It refers to the use of the clothing of the opposite sex for sexual arousal. Transexualism is also a sexual behaviour. This involves one feeling like the opposite sex in order to sexually attract the opposite sex (Judith, Brook and Elinor, (1994) and AHI (2003). In this study, sexual behaviour refers to those sexual activities that are common among adolescents as kissing, breast/genital fondling, embracing, holding hands, touching, sexual intercourse, sexy dressing, sex discussions, caressing, pinching of buttocks among others. Touching means a specific sensation that occurs in response to situations by light strokes or pleasure. Kissing means touching with the lips. Breast/genital fondling refers to stimulation of the breast or penis. Hugging /Embrace refers to the intimate act of embracing especially using the arms across the truck of the body. Holding hands is an expression of friendship. Sexy dressing means wearing of cloths that do not cover much of the body. It is also called sexualized appearance. Sex discussions refer to talking about sex and sex related issues. It also means engaging in sexual provocative conversation. Caress stands for a gentle loving touch or kiss. Pinching of buttocks means pressing a part of someone’s flesh very tightly between your finger (s) and thumb. Any of the above specific aspects of sexual behaviour can also be referred to as sexual relationship which are cause by human sexual feelings and reactions. In other words, sexual behaviour refers to means the variety of ways secondary school students express their sexual feelings.
Sexual feelings and reactions although are natural, expressing them correctly especially when one is young (young age) without adequate knowledge received from a well planned programme such as sexuality education is not easy. The young persons in secondary schools are called adolescents because they are in the Adolescence period. Adolescence is a period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood. Some scholars believe that adolescence is a post pubertal population that is made up of young boys and girls who are not more than twenty years of age. Secondary school students as adolescents have been classified according to age range into early (10-14 yrs), middle (15-19yrs) and late adolescence (20-25yrs). However, age is not an accurate measure an adolescence due to difference in cultural norms, expectations and the rate of development in individuals, but experience shows that at 12 years of age, young male and female persons enter into secondary schools in Nigeria and are called secondary school students. Most of them leave secondary school between 17 and 19 years of age. Few ones that are between the ages of 10 and 11 years can also be found in our secondary schools. Some of these students are in junior secondary while others are in senior secondary. These young persons are called adolescents in secondary schools or in - school adolescents. These in-school adolescents, at the age of 12 to 19 are already involved in sex exploration more than adults realize and their main source of information is the peer group. Secondary School Students as adolescents experience a lot of physiological and psychological changes in their body accompanied by alterations in behaviour that are well known to involve risks to health. The physical changes during adolescence include growth in height and size, pubic hair on and around the genitals, legs, face and under arms, development of sex organs among others.They also experience emotional and social changes such as feeling alone, being misunderstood, sadness, depression, anger, alienation, and development of sexual feelings to someone else (Okwubunka, 1992 and Dosumo in Ifelunni 2003). Thus the students become sexually active at this stage, meaning that they have great pressure to have sex and they really engage in sexual activities such as Kissing, breast/genital fondling, embracing, holding hands, sexual intercourse, buying/selling of sex, flirting and others. (Lasela and Alao 1991, Achalu 1996, Obikeze 1997, Mcsweeney 2001, Ifelunni and Okorie, Nwankwo, Ezedum 2003, Olujide 2009 and Ugoji 2009). In this study, secondary school students are the adolescents who are between the ages of 10 – 19 years in our schools.
The adolescent students find it difficult to cope with all these changes and so they need to be assured that all of these are a normal part of growing up. Unfortunately, relatively little information is made available to them on the specific nature of their sexuality (Ifelunni, 2003). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to provide them with appropriate sexuality education especially as it affects their sexual life and health. Although teachers claim that adolescent growth and development are taught in schools and most schools teach something about physical changes during puberty (Ugoji, 2009), whether the information transmitted is of any value is questionable.
Sexuality Education is a process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationship and intimacy. In this study sexuality education means a planned process of education that fosters the acquisition of factual information, the formation of positive attitudes, beliefs and values and the development of skills to cope with the biological, psychological, socio-cultural and spiritual aspects of human sexuality. It is also about developing young people’s skills so that they make informed choices about their behaviour and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. This could be the reason why it is now widely accepted that young people have right to sexuality education (United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (2002). This could also partly account for the recent interest in the health of adolescent that has grown in many countries, for instance, U.S.A., Germany, Britain, Sweden and even Ghana integrated Sexuality Education into their secondary school curricular in the recent times. In Nigeria, the National Council on Education (NCE) after its 2004 meeting, mandated all the states in the federation to teach Sexuality Education to Secondary School Students. In response to this, one time Anambra State commissioner for education through the state ministry of education (in a – 3 – day workshop) sensitized principals of pilot schools on the teaching of sexuality education in schools. Copies of Comprehensive Sexuality education (Trainers’ Resource Manual) in form of syllabus for the teaching of sexuality education were given to the principals, to ensure its effective take off; although it has not been adequately integrated (Ursala, 2001 and Nwandu, 2005). Sexuality education.
Sexuality education which is often provided in organized block of lessons by expert teachers (Wade, Benton and Schgen, 2004), aims at promoting the health of learners by allowing them the opportunities to develop a positive and factual view of sexuality, acquire information and skills needed to take care of their sexual health as well as prevent STIS, HIV/AIDS, respect and value themselves and others. It is also responsive to the needs of the students themselves, whether they are girls or boys on their own or in a single sex or mixed sex groups, in the urban or rural areas and what they already know, their age and experiences (Sewell, 2006); which they are required to express according to their genders. This is because in Nigeria as a whole and Igbo land in particular, people including the adolescents are to behave according to gender. Gender is the condition of being masculine or feminine through one’s behaviour. This means there are behaviours meant for males and there are the ones meant for students. For instance, in traditional Igbo society, males are expected to be strong and assertive while females are expected to be soft, sensitive, cook for the family and nurture children. In terms of sexual behaviour, males are to initiate sexual behaviour while females are to be reserved. Therefore gender means socially defined roles for men and women in a society. But in the present study gender refers to the manifestation of sexual behaviour by male and female students in their various school locations. School location refers to the place where a school is sited. It is called the geographic location of a school (Jones, 2002).Some secondary schools in Anambra state are located in urban areas while some are located in the rural areas. Here, urban area means township or metropolitan part of a State or town. Rural area means the local area or an undeveloped part of Onitsha Education Zone. However, some scholars have asserted that school location significantly affect the reading Comprehension and numeracy scores of students (Jones 2002). But Ezedum (2003) and Obadofin in Ifelunni (2003) found no difference between urban and rural adolescents’ heterosexual behaviour pattern and sexual awareness respectively. This study will find out whether gender and location affect sexual behaviours of secondary school students in terms of engagement in heterosexual debut, multiple sex partnership, wearing of sexy dresses, use of condom, breast/genital fondling, kissing and others.
Sexuality education is very important to students because of the many sources of their information, knowledge and misconceptions about sexuality these days that influence negatively their attitudes and most importantly their behaviour towards sexuality. The sources of their information on sexuality include peers, parents, toys, neighbours, families, internet websites among others (Hawkins and Ojaka, 1992, Castillo, (1993), Sexuality Information and Education Council of United State, (SIECUS), (2002) and Nwazor, (2003). Sources of the students’ knowledge on sexuality are books, media, music, advertisement, school subjects such as Health education, Biology, Health science, (AHI, 2001, National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education, 2000 and Ugoji 2009); while sources of their misconceptions have been identified as peers, internet websites, CD films and advertisement (Kasier, 2003; Odumodu, 2005 and Ezinne, 2007). Messages from these sources could be inadequate or incomplete and conflicting unless healthy sexual issues are frankly discussed and taught systematically in form of sexuality education in schools.
Sexuality education is needed by Secondary school students because it increases their confidence level to discuss sexuality related issues through which they clarify the doubts and misconceptions they hold about sexuality. This is very important given the fact that discussion of sexuality issue is generally considered a taboo in Nigeria. Sexuality education could help them acquire higher perceived self-efficacy (PSE)-(confidence in themselves)to adopt safer sexual behaviours, The stage in which the secondary school students are in their development makes the provision of sexuality education to them a properly timed innovation. They are in their most impressionist years when behaviours and character traits have not been fully formed. Another most important need of sexuality education for students is that, as adolescents, they reach sexual maturity first (Okwubunka, 1992) before mental and emotional maturity. Sexuality education will help the students to know how to handle their sexual needs/ feelings and understand the changing development of their sexuality. They also engage in sex activities (experimentation) before developing skills to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Providing sexuality education to secondary school students may help remove some of the gender role stereotypes that are at the disfavor of females (students). The benefits inherent in providing young persons sexuality education make the provision of sexuality education to secondary school students a worthwhile venture. Above all, HIV/AIDS is now claiming the lives of young persons in great tolls (Nwazor, 2006). Therefore, no effort is too much at providing students a strong opportunity to learn to reduce their engagement in sexually related activities. Consequently, the researcher was interested in finding an avenue through which students are helped to acquire information, skills and services that may enable them adopt healthy sexual behaviours such as abstinence and use of condom.
Statement of the Problem
A close look at the present day secondary school students’ overtly sexual practices indicates that provision of sexuality Education among secondary school students is timely and appropriate. Evidence from studies revealed that students exhibit openly unhealthy sexual activities such as indecent or sexy dressing (Ali, 2009) sex without condom (Ugoji,
2009), Multiple sex partnership (Enemou, 2003) buying and selling of sex (Ifelunni and Okorie 2003) among others.
Moreover, the period of adolescence in which the students are (12 to 21 years) is the period of curiosity, experimentation and activities relating to sexual affairs, drug and alcohol abuses. These activities expose them to health problems such as infection with HIV/AIDS. Presently, AIDS cases are reported in all the states in Nigeria, including Anambra state (FME in Unachukwu 2003). Adolescents (including those in secondary schools) lack the knowledge of the aetiology, epidemiology and clinical picture of HIV/AIDS (Unachukwu 2003). With the presence of this incurable disease called AIDS that is transmitted mainly through sexual contacts, blood transfusion and body fluids contact of infected persons (Nwazor, 2006) and the engagement of secondary school adolescents in activities related to sexual affairs, there is need to worry. The worry is more due to the fact that there is high rate of promiscuity and high sexual permissive attitudes among adolescents in Anambra state as reported by Onyermelukwe (1993) and Enemuo (2001). Majority of the students engage in indiscriminate sex with many partners. Many pick their sex partners from the streets. Some of the girls especially in Onitsha Metropolis engage in sexual relationships with older business men for money. Almost all the students wear skimpy dresses even to school.
A close observation to the sexual life of these secondary school students will immediately strike the mind of the observer on the problem of this study which was on how to provide opportunities for students to learn to reduce their unhealthy sexual behaviours. Will provision of sexuality Education really enhance healthy sexual practices in students?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to find out the effect of sexuality education on sexual behaviour of secondary school students. Specifically, this study intended to:
1. Find out the effect of sexuality education on sexual behaviour of secondary school students.
2. Ascertain the effect of gender on sexual behaviour of the students as a result of sexuality education.
3. Determine the interaction effect of sexuality education and students’ gender on the sexual behaviour of the students.
4. Find out the effect of location on sexual behaviour of the students as a result of sexuality education.
5. Determine the interaction effect of sexuality education and location on sexual behaviour of secondary school students.
Significance of the Study
This study is significant in a number of ways. The findings of the study are of great relevance to psychologist, government/policy makers, Curriculum designers, teachers, guidance/counsellors, parents/public, students and other researchers.
The assertion by some theories on which this study anchored such as social cognitive theory, that a learners’ ability to adopt desired behaviour depends on his environment has been tested and supported by the findings of this study. This is shown by the existence of a significant difference between urban and rural students’ measures of improvement on their sexual behaviour. This is of great benefit to social and educational psychologists because it has confirmed the authenticity of environment (social and physical) being a factor on which students’ learning depends. This is an insight for development of potential theory of Adolescents’ social and sexual behaviour changes.
Besides, there is a growing concern about the effect sexuality education in secondary schools can make in risky sexual behaviour in students. Some suggestions have been made regarding how to teach sexuality education as to better motivate students to learn it and adopt desired sexual behaviour. Teaching by stressing both the cognitive and boosting of students’ belief in their ability to carry out the desired behaviour using modeling/Roleplay, participatory methods accompanied by rein enforcement and punishment posited by the theories (Percierved Self Efficacy and Social Cognitive) on which the study is based (as used in the study) are examples of such strategies. Thus, this study is deemed theoretically significant because it has provided insights into the currently existing theories on teaching and learning which have been known to motivate students to learn and adopt the desired behaviour. In particular, two of such theories (Bandura, 1997 and 2001) were reviewed and the findings of the present study are considered to be theoretically significant because they contributed additional empirically – derived theoretical body of knowledge on Bandura’s theories on self efficacy and social cognitive learning, this time using subjects drawn from secondary schools in 4 schools in Onitsha Education zone of Anambra State.
Policy makers can be motivated by the result of this study to begin to take bold steps in making the teaching and learning of sexuality in schools compulsory. This could be achieved by making sexuality education one of the core subjects that has its separate time table and is taken in examinations by students.
The policy makers (ministry of education, SEC, ASUBEB), based on the findings of this study, can be aroused to organize workshops, seminars, and conferences for serving teachers on the teaching and learning of sexuality education for students. These workshops and seminars could be designed to provide in – service training for teachers on how to improve their knowledge and elevate their comfort level to teach adolescents sexuality education in schools.
The significance of the study to the teachers include the fact that teachers can now view discussion of sexuality with students as appropriate. They can begin to help students acquire more factual knowledge of sexuality irrespective of their gender.
The findings of this study are also relevant to school guidance/counselors because they will begin to incorporate sexuality counseling in their services to students and become more empathic and accepting in counseling relationships with the students.
The curriculum designers, can now modify secondary school curriculum to integrate sexuality education that will blend well with the immediate environment of the students.
To parents and the Igbo society as a whole, the findings of this study if they are advertised in parents’ forum will be of great significance because, the study has proved that teaching young persons sexuality education is not counter productive. It therefore opens an avenue for parents to start communicating sexual issues with their children at home.
To the students, the findings of this study have shown that both male and female students benefit greatly from sexuality issues if adequate instructions are provided to them. This will enhance their attitude and interests towards sexuality education. This is true because the findings of this study call for elimination of gender differences in learning of sexuality issues.
Having pinned down rural students as needing more sexuality education attention, having also proved that exposing students to all the concepts of sexuality education results in adoption of healthy sexual behaviours, the study has provided a stepping stone to other researchers who may like to carry out similar studies in other zones or from a different perspective.
Scope of the Study
The study was carried out in four single sex secondary schools (two in Onitsha urban and two in Onitsha rural) in Onitsha Education Zone of Anambra State, that are not among the pilot schools (see Appendix G). The schools were selected from non – pilot schools because it was expected that their students have not been formerly exposed to sexuality education. Only senior secondary two students were involved in the study.
The content areas include:
- Relationships: Friendship, family, dating, marriage, life commitments, parenting.
- Human development, examples – Reproductive Anatomy and
physiology, puberty, reproduction, body image.
- Personal skills: Values, self-esteem, goal setting, communication,
assertiveness, negotiation and finding help.
- Sexual Health: Reproductive health, STIs, contraception, abortion,
drug abuse and sexual abuse.
- Sexual Behaviour: Sexuality throughout life, sexual identity and
orientation, masturbation, shared sexual behaviour, abstinence,
human sexual response, fantasy and sexual dysfunction.
- Sexuality, society and culture: Sexuality within the larger society, sexuality and society, gender roles and diversity, sexuality and the law, sexuality and religion, sexuality and the Arts, sexuality and the media.
The following research questions guided the study:
- What is the effect of sexuality education in enhancing sexual behaviour of secondary school students?
- What would be the effect of gender in enhancing the sexual behaviour of the students?
- Will the interaction effect of sexuality education and gender enhance the sexual behaviour of the students?
- What is the effect of location in enhancing the sexual behaviour of secondary school students as a result of sexuality education?
- Will the interaction effect of sexuality education and location enhance sexual behaviour of the students?
The following five null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. They were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
HO1: There is no significant difference in the pretest and posttest mean scores of students exposed to sexuality education and those not exposed as measured by their Sexual Behaviour Manifestation (SBM).
HO2: Gender is not a significant factor enhancing sexual behaviour of students exposed to sexuality education as measured by their pretest and posttest mean scores on SBM.
HO3: There is no significant interaction effect of sexuality education and gender in enhancing sexual behaviour of the students exposed to treatment (Sexuality Education) as measured by their pretest and posttest mean scores on the SBM.
HO4: There will be no significant in effect of location enhancing sexual behaviour of students exposed to sexuality education as measured by their pretest and posttest mean scores on SBM.
HO5: There will be no significant interaction effect of sexuality education and location in enhancing sexual behaviour of students exposed to treatment as measured by their pretest and posttest mean scores on SBM..