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1.1      Background of the study

Social factors are factors interacting with a person’s social environment that could influence or induce positive or negative behaviour in a person at school, at home or in a society. Douglas & Strauss (2007) noted that social factors relates to factors influencing ones psycho-social development and how interaction with one’s social environment influence how a person behaves. It was first commonly used by psychologist Erik Erikson in his stages of social development in the school and home to include: lack of proper interaction with teachers and students; inefficient school administration; unqualified teachers; large and oversized schools; overcrowded classrooms; disjointed family (of students); peer pressure, domestic violence and parental influence or inadequacies among others.

Peer pressure, domestic violence and family/parental, influence been identified as social factors by Erikson (1964). Therefore, the perception of students about them will be the focus of this study. Peer, directly or indirectly influence adolescents to indulge in risky behaviour. Direct peer pressure may occur in the form of encouragement in anti-social or deviant activities like rape, theft, substance abuse, among others.  On the other hand, “indirect peer influences can occur when youth associate with peers who drink or smoke, take harmful drugs (Douglas &Strauss, 2007). Therefore, it perhaps becomes problematic as children grow seeing their peers as role model.

Family or parental influences, has also been identified as a social factors. The place of the family or parents as the first agent of a child’s socialization holds a significant place in character formation of a child. From birth, a parent will mold and shape behaviours suitable to the norms of society through childrearing. If parents act in a negative way, the child is more likely to follow their parent’s negative attitude. They are also more likely to generalize this attitude to the rest of the society. Thus, parents could have much influence over their child’s behaviour.

Learning acceptable behaviour is a part of socialization process of a child at home. Osarenren, Nwadinigwe and Anyama (2013) noted that the negative aspect of family life is the effect of home conflict or domestic violence on children. From in frequent slaps, pushes, grabs, or shoves to frequent and severe life-threatening assaults, domestic violence in its various forms could affect a child’s upbringing and social consequences. Domestic violence between parents and children, children and their siblings, children and their loved ones at home could influence how they behave to others and their perception about things. Hence, children could be severely traumatized by witnessing domestic violence or being victims of the conflict themselves.

Children and youths are very valuable human resource because they ensure the continuity of any society. Deviant behaviour is also common among them (youths) especially in their formative years when character is formed to suit the expectation of the family and the society. Deviance is behaving contrary to acceptable norms and expectation of a society. Every society has specific behaviour standards and ways in which people are supposed to act. Sometimes these are the paradigms for predictable behaviour in the society. It can be described as a violation of culturally acceptable norm or a failure to conform to set rules and ways of doing something that is traditionally prescribed. 

A behaviour considered as deviant in one society may be seen as non-deviant in another society. For example, the traditional African social custom appreciates chastity, modest dressing, good morals, decent behaviour, and respect for elders, handwork and integrity and frowns at premarital and extra marital sexual relationship. It also prohibits marriage between same sex such as homosexuality and consanguine sexual relationship. The Nigerian society frowns at alternative marriage styles and parenthood, for example, single parenthood and cohabitation. In some other societies, these unacceptable behaviours may be acceptable. That is why; deviance is relative to time and place.

Deviant behaviour in a society are not limited to what goes on within the school system alone. Factors beyond the fence of the schools such as family background, socio-economic status of the child, imported culture, role models in the community, peer influence are some of the causes (Dalhatua & Yunusa, 2013). Teachers are sometimes blamed for being incompetent in teaching children the right morals in class. This could be wrong since teachers are not the only influencing factors inside the school and therefore cannot be blamed wholly. Also, inclining educational problem on educators could be incorrect as no general agreement has been reached as to one single cause of deviance in today’s society.

Deviant behaviours include but are not limited to: truancy, anti–social behaviour, disrespect for constituted authority, sexual harassment, rape, arson, destruction, delinquency that are portrayed by children and adolescent. Adesoji (2010) attributed this menace to peer pressure. He noted that youths break away from their families and try out different roles and situations to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world. Hence, they spend more time with their friends and less time with their families. This is a normal, healthy stage of development, but the growing distance between parents and their children and the increasing importance of friends can be a source of conflict and anger within the family.

The desire to impress friends and be accepted by peers is one of the strongest forces in adolescents that leads teenagers to do things that they know are wrong, dangerous, or risky. This is what Adesoji (2010) described as “peer pressure”. According to Him, peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behaviours to conform to the group. On the positive side, the pressure to keep up with the peer group can also inspire teens to achieve goals that they might never aim for on their own. This explains why most young people prefer to be in the company of their peers, who offer mutual support in contrast to their parents, who they perceive as authoritarian.

It is the zeal of every reasonable parent to address the changing behaviour of their children. However, high increase in juvenile delinquencies, high rate of early school dropouts, increase in street children and high rate of crime, both in towns and communities, could be linked to poor parental guidance in the early child development (Melgosa, 2002). He asserted that majority of the children involved in deviant behaviour, are either staying alone, staying far from their parents, with their peers or were brought up in a violence environment. Most of them also opt to engage in detrimental lifestyles of drugs, alcoholism, and sexual crimes. This explains why alcoholic parents, parents with criminal behaviour and parents with discipline systems which are strict, too lax or inconsistent, broken homes or those with problematic relationships; also tend to influence delinquent behaviour in children.

The home or family also may contribute to deviant behaviour both at childhood and adulthood (Hagan & Foster, 2001). An intact family can be said to be a functioning union between a mother and a father, so when a break up exist, the turmoil may affect a child to a greater extent. A functioning family is beneficial to a child than a dysfunctional one. Family separation could result in child neglect which generally could lead to a child’s deviant behaviour like leaving home, hooliganisms, stealing, drug addiction and alcoholism among others. If a person is brought up in a violence prone environment, his/her emotions could be influenced negatively to engage in deviant activities or indiscipline behaviour.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

It is generally observed that the majority of university undergraduates arrogate specific deadlines to their stay on campus and may want to maximize both the main and peripheral opportunities while it lasts with the perception that the society still regards them as late adolescents or youths who could be excused for certain misdemeanors. Unfortunately, while passing out on record time is highly appreciated, passing through the university campus without allowing the university decorum to pass through the undergraduates is quite sad and drug abuse, premarital sex and abortion are index of this among most adolescents.

Moreover, the independence granted to tertiary students has led them to take a position and views different from those of their parents and adults and to act in conformity with their peers, however unconventional the act may be. Owuamanam (cited in Alade, 2013) opined that university students of today seem to value sexual activities more than their counterparts of the past years. Conger (1979) also believed that in all developmental events of adolescence, the most dramatic is the increase in sexual drive and the new and often mysterious feelings and thoughts that accompany it. Invariably, this has led to adolescent pregnancy over the years and in turn led to abortion.

In Nigeria studies on unwanted pregnancies and induced abortion among female university students are few, with a lot of studies done at the health facility level. This point out to the need of more university-based studies, because most of the maternal deaths due to abortion complications occur outside the formal health system. The problem of unwanted pregnancy and induced abortion at the university is very big but much underreported; Women are not open to discuss on the sensitive issue of abortion and unplanned pregnancies. So this study will provide information on the real situation at the university level.

Several studies have been conducted to determine factors contributing to the unwanted pregnancies and induced abortion in Nigeria, Reasons includes; poverty, lack of moral and financial support from the partner, disruption of education and employment, family building preferences i.e. need to postpone childbearing or to achieve health spacing between births, relationship problems with the partner/husband, risk to maternal or foetal health, pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, most of the time it is poor access to contraceptives or contraceptive failure. In many countries, young women and men are under strong social and peer group pressure to engage in premarital sex. Surveys have shown that, on average, 43 % of women in sub Saharan Africa started to have sex before the age of 20 (Ugoji, 2013), when this is coupled with limited accessibility of effective and modern contraceptives, then the problem of unintended pregnancies as well as induced abortion is bound to rise. Hence, this necessitated the central research question: Do peer group and parenting styles have any significant influence on the perception of female university students towards abortion?

1.3      Objectives of the Study

This issue brings into focus the following specific objectives:

a.   To determine if parenting style have significant effect on perceptions of abortion among female university student?

b.   To determine if there is a significant relationship between peer group and the attitude towards abortion among female university students?

c.   To ascertain if age have any significant influence on the perception of female university student towards abortion?

d.   To find out if there is a joint influence of peer group and parenting styles on the perception of female university students towards abortion?

1.4      Research Hypotheses

The study developed and formulated for testing, the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis One

There is no significant effect on perceptions of abortion among female university student

Hypothesis Two:

There is no significant relationship between peer group and the attitude towards abortion among female university students.

Hypothesis three:

There is no significant influence on the perception of female university student towards abortion.

Hypothesis Four:

There is there is a joint influence of peer group and parenting styles on the perception of female university students towards abortion

1.5 Significance/Justification for the Study:

The findings of this study will be of immense significant to the following stake holders in education:

·    To the Parents: The results of this research if published will act as an aid to the guidance of effective parenting skills that will enable parents to adequately deal with conflicts with adolescents when the need arises.

·    The results of this research will be useful in planning and organizing necessary psychological support services for parents and adolescents in the country.

·    The results of this study will also be useful to a number of people namely: Psychologists, Student counsellors, Social Workers, Health Professionals, Sociologists, Psychiatrists, Teachers, and other researchers in this field to help in the mediating process of adolescent conflict with parents.

·    Fellow researchers: The findings could aid other researchers to further evaluate the influence of Gender, Age, Parenting Style and Peer Pressure on perception of female university students towards abortion.

·    The findings will serve as an information bases for Curriculum planners to actually enable them incorporate this aspect of societal issues in teaching and learning in our schools.

1.6   Definition of Terms

The following terms were operationally defined for the study:

Social factors: This refers to those factors interacting with a person’s social environment that could influence or induce positive or negative behaviour among students at school, home or in the society. In this study these factors include: peer influence, parental influence and home/domestic violence

Deviance: Deviance is behaving contrary to acceptable norms and expectation of a society.

Peer pressure: This describes the influence exerted by a peer group to make individuals to change their attitudes, values, behaviour in order to conform to group norms.

Home influence: This refers to all forms of frequent slaps, pushes, grabs, or shoves and severe life-threatening assaults witnessed by children (or the ones they are directly involved in), in a domestic environment that could affect a child’s upbringing and emotions.

School location: This refers to the area a school is built. 

Rural schools: This refers to secondary schools located in the outskirt or outside the local government headquarters.

Urban schools: This refers to secondary schools located in the local government headquarters.

1.7   Organization of Study

The study is planned and carried out in five distinct but related chapters. The first chapter gives a background to the study, thereby stating the problem and highlighting the objectives, scope and research questions. The second chapter carefully review literatures on child abuse and neglect from wide scholars both national and internationally. The third chapter explains the scientific methodology adopted in conducting the study; highlighting the research design, methods of data collection and employed method of analysis. The fourth chapter presents the sourced data in mathematical expression using tables and graphs to buttress the findings. The fifth chapter summarizes the findings of the study, draws a conclusion to the study and possibly makes recommendation. All these are organized in separate but harmonized chapters.

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