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This study was designed to determine the socio-demographic correlates of perceived sexual behaviours of adolescents in Imo State. The statement of problem is the increase in risky sexual behaviours of adolescents and inherent dangers of unplanned pregnancy, dropping out of school, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections/HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, no empirical data was identified in Imo State hence the motivation to determine the socio-demographic variables that influence the level of sexual behaviours of adolescents in Imo State. The study was guided by 11 purposes, 11 research questions and 11 hypotheses. A cross sectional survey research design was used for the study. Sample size was 3360 (2.2%) adolescents drawn from a population of 153586 adolescents. A structured, validated and reliable questionnaire (r = 0.77) was used as the instrument for data collection. Data analysis was done using mean for research questions, ANOVA and Z-test statistics were used to test the hypotheses. The result showed that in Imo State Secondary Schools, the sexual behaviours of the older adolescents ( x = 2.60) were significantly higher than those of the younger adolescents ( x = 1.41), P<0.05. The males had higher levels of sexual behaviours (x =1.53) than the females (x = 1.44), P<0.05. There were significant differences among adolescents in classes JSS1 to SS3 in terms of their levels of sexual behaviours with SS3 ranking highest followed by SS2 and SS1. The rural adolescents’ level of sexual behaviour ( x = 1.51) was higher than that of the urban adolescents (x = 1.43). Furthermore, there were no significant differences among adolescents of different family sizes in terms of their levels of sexual behaviours, P >0.05. There were significant differences among adolescents of different family structures, financial strengths, and religious beliefs, P< 0.05. Furthermore, there were significant differences among adolescents with various ages at first sexual intercourse in terms of their levels of sexual behaviours. Finally, there was a significant difference in the levels of sexual behaviours of the adolescents who used alcohol (x =2.60) and those who did not use alcohol (x =1.78) as well as adolescents who used illegal drugs ( x = 1.68) and those who did not use illegal drugs (x = 1.50). Based on the above findings, conclusions were drawn and recommendations made.



Background of the Study

Sexual behaviour is a form of physical intimacy that may be directed to reproduction (one possible goal of sexual intercourse), spiritual transcendence, and/or the enjoyment of any activity involving sexual gratification (Wikipedia, 2005). Behaviour refers to the actions or reactions of an object or organism usually in relation to the environment (Wikipaedia, 2006). It was further noted that behaviour can be conscious or unconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary. Human behaviour is the most basic human action and can be common, unusual, acceptable and unacceptable.

Health South Australia (2009) stated various types of sexual behaviour as follows, abstinence, masturbation, coitus, anal sex, oral sex, prostitution, transvestism (use of clothing of opposite sex for sexual gratification) and transsexualism (a disorder of gender identity in which the individual wishes to be or feels that he or she is a member of the opposite sex). This study will concentrate on sexual behaviours that could result to sexually transmitted infections.

The term adolescence comes from the Latin verb adolescere, which means “to grow up” or “to grow to maturity. It means somewhat more than the physiological development implied by the original Latin


verb (Dusek, 1977). Adolescence is the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Dusek further noted that it is the transition from childhood to adulthood, the stage in which the individual is required to adapt and adjust childhood behaviours to the adult forms that are considered acceptable in his or her culture.

Decey and Kenny (1994) in their explanation of adolescents are of the view that adolescents’ fall within the age range of 10 to 19 years. World Health Organization (WHO) (2003) defined adolescence both in terms of age (spanning the ages of 10 to 19 years) and in terms of phase of life by special attributes. These attributes include rapid physical growth and development, physiological, social and psychological maturity, but not all at the same time. According to WHO (2003), there is Sexual maturity and the onset of sexual activity, experimentation, development of adult mental process and adult identity as well as transition from total socio-economic dependence to relative independence. WHO/United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA)/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (1989) are of the view that adolescence is the period between childhood and adulthood and includes those between 10 and 19 years.

According to Wikipedia (2005), correlate is a causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relationship, especially a structural, functional or quality correspondence between two comparable


entities; for example, a correlation between drug abuse and crime. Wikipedia further noted that it is used to predict the value of one variable given the value of the other. Houghton (2007) stated that correlate is to put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel or reciprocal relation and further noted that in brief, it is to put in or have some relation or connection. Furthermore, correlate was defined as causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relationship and was explained as being connected either logically or causally or by shared characteristics or either of two interrelated things, especially if one implies the other (Houghton, 1995; Webster, 2009 & Martin, 2009).

Flay (2002) stated that all behaviours, not just problem behaviours, are related to each other. They are correlated and they also cause each other. Brian, Flay, Dphil, FSBM, and FAAHB (2002) pointed out that the linkages between alcohol or drug use and both violence and sexual behaviour among adolescents were clear. The authors further noted that about a third of the youth that committed serious crimes consumed alcohol just before the offense. The authors further pointed out that more than 70 per cent of teen suicides involved frequent use of alcohol or drugs and nearly 40 per cent of drowning involved the use of alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol and drug use were the best predictors of early sexual activity and were associated with more unplanned pregnancies, more sexually transmitted diseases, more HIV


infections, and greater school dropout than any other factor (Code, 1992; HHS Youth & Alcohol, 1992; Reis & Roth, 1993; Eron, Gentry & Schlegel, 1994; Levine & Rosich, 1996; Healthy Youth, 2000; & Poulin & Graham, 2001).

Sharma (2003) reported that adolescents practice a wide variety of sexual behaviours. The commonest of them is masturbation. Mutual masturbation among same sex adolescents is also common. Other forms of sexual behaviour include necking and petting, which are physical contacts in an attempt to produce erotic arousals without sexual intercourse. Sometimes petting and necking can also lead to orgasm. Heterosexual intercourse, lesbianism and homosexual relations are some other forms of sexual behaviour practiced by some adolescents (Sharma, 2003). Sharma further noted that among the sexually active adolescents one may observe that many have single partners; others have multiple partners at a time. Many adolescents, according to Sharma, entered into a sporadic sexual activity and then kept away from sex while others indulged in sexual activities regularly. Sharma (2003) further stated that one can rightly say that information about safer-sex practice and its usage is far below optimum levels among sexually active adolescents.

Obiajuru (2000) observed that some adolescents were exposed to sexual risk behaviours like having casual sex with unknown partners, having multiple sex partners, anal sex, oral sex, non compliance to the


use of condom during sexual intercourse, homosexuality and lesbianism. Among all these also are the watching of pornographic films, collecting money in exchange for sex and having group sex. Doedens (2000); FMOH (2001); Garofalo, Cameron, Wolf, kessel, and Durant (1998) & Sharma (2003) noted that there is alarming increase of exposure to risky sexual behaviours among the adolescents not considering the consequences like pregnancy, abortion, STIs including HIV/AIDS.

Infections transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse are referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sexually transmitted infections constitute a serious and sometimes deadly group of infectious diseases especially Human Immune Virus /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

In an uninformed or a deviant in sexual behaviour, there are two undesirable consequences such as disease and/or pregnancy (Hanlon & Pickett, 1979). The authors further reported that the present epidemic of STIs among adolescents is of serious dimensions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002) stated that the number of conception in unmarried female adolescents is unknown. It is estimated that each year approximately 10 per cent of all adolescent girls become pregnant, the majority out of wedlock. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention further reported more than 300,000 teenage abortions in 1976 and about


600,000 pregnancies that were carried to term in the United States of America.

Slap, Lot, Huang, Daniyam, Zink, and Succop (2003) observed that family polygamy and lower educational level of parents were associated with increased sexual activity among adolescents. The proportions of students reporting sexual activity were 42.3 per cent in students from polygamous families and 27.5 per cent in students from monogamous families (Slap et al., 2003). United Nations programme on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS) and WHO (2000) reported that Nigeria’s birth rate for adolescents is one of the highest in the world and the prevalence among female adolescents in Nigeria of STIs including HIV, is climbing rapidly.

Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) (1990) reported that the median age at first sexual intercourse was 16.6years while about one third of the women had their first sexual intercourse at the age of 15years. In an effort to reduce its high maternal and infant mortality and higher rate of sexually transmitted infections and dropout from school, Nigeria developed a National Reproductive Health Policy in 2000 that focuses on preventing risky sexual behaviours during adolescence.

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