Psychology Project Topics

Knowledge and Perception on Sexual Abuse Amongst First Year Female Tertiary Institution Students (Case Study of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri)

Knowledge and Perception on Sexual Abuse Amongst First Year Female Tertiary Institution Students (Case Study of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri)

Knowledge and Perception on Sexual Abuse Amongst First Year Female Tertiary Institution Students (Case Study of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri)


Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine the knowledge and perception on sexual abuse amongst first year female tertiary institution students of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Perception on sexual abuse among first year female students in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri
  2. Knowledge on sexual abuse among first year female students in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri
  3. Sources of information on sexual abuse among first year female students in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri
  4. Association between family type and knowledge of sexual abuse among first year students in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri.



Concept of sexual abuse

There is no generally accepted definition of sexual abuse as a result of differences in perception regarding what is acceptable as being abusive. In the past, sexual abuse was defined as sexual behaviour between a child and an adult; between two children when one of them is significantly older or uses coercion; sexual body contact prior to age of 18 years by someone of any age and relationship to the respondent (Wyatt and Mickey 1988, Smith, 2002). Sexual abuse was restricted to incidents involving bodily contact, including breast or genital fondling and attempted or completed vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse (Wyatt et al., 1990). In recent years, sexual abuse is perceived as forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening (DCSF, 2010; Sedlak et al., 2010). Sexual behaviours of this kind include touching breasts, buttocks, and genitals whether the victim is dressed or undressed, exhibitionism, fellatio, cunnilingus and penetration of the vagina or anus with sexual organs or with objects and also including pornographic photography (Smith, 2002, DCSF, 2010; Sedlak et al., 2010; Alink et al., 2011; Ogunfowoka and Fajemilebin 2012).

Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behavior by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. When force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behavior by an adult or older adolescent towards a child to stimulate any of the involved sexually. The use of a child, or other individuals younger than the age of consent, for sexual stimulation is referred to as sexual abuse or statutory rape. Live streaming sexual abuse involves trafficking and coerced sexual acts and or rape in real time on webcam.

In addition what is termed sexual abuse varies according to various societies, however, according to Ogunbameru (2006);  European Union Journal (2006) and  Numhauser-Henning and Laulom(2012) sexual abuse is seen as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favour, physical, verbal or nonverbal conducts which make submission or rejection of such conduct either in an explicit or implicit form such as threats, intimidation, taunting, unwanted touching, unwanted kissing, phonography, among others. Therefore, sexual abuse can be understood from the point of view of rejection and protest from the affected person or victim.

Obasanjo (2012) opined that education must foster in the individual those values which make for good citizenship such as honesty, selflessness, tolerance, dedication, hard work, personal integrity, all of which provide the rich soil from which good leadership is produced. In addition, Amin (2006) and Rigg (2008),posit that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) refer to eight goals for development adopted by the world leaders at the United Nations to address problems affecting the world, such as poverty, women empowerment, education, health, environmental degradation and child mortality with the aim of bringing development through improving people’s social and economic conditions, more especially in the world’s poorest nations.

However, with the high incidence of sexual abuse of female students of tertiary institutions and its consequences on the victims, the issue of sexual abuse is likely to be a serious threat to achieving the girl child education in Northern Nigeria. In addition to the threat are the challenges of Boko Haram insurgency that condemned conventional system of education in totality as well as the kidnapping and molesting of the female students in Chibok in Borno State. It is worth noting that sexual abuse in tertiary institutions has become the order of the day and constitute serious menace to the development of educational system in Nigeria and Northern Nigeria in particular. It has created nonconductive and unsafe learning environment for the female students which has promoted slow and uneven progress towards attaining gender equality of Millennium Development Goals that it is detrimental to sustainable development.




Research design

This study used a descriptive cross-sectional study that employed quantitative method of data collection.

Population of the study

A study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitutes of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description (Prince, 2019). The study population consisted of first year female students in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri.




Socio-Demographic Characteristics




The study has shown that schools played a significant role in increasing awareness about sexual abuse; parents were found to be second highest source of information on sexual abuse. In addition, the family settings also played a role in the knowledge of sexual abuse among the respondents. There is therefore a need to focus attention on increasing the awareness of students by integrating topics on sexual abuse in primary and secondary school curriculum. Public awareness is the foundation on which understanding and empowerment are built. Increased public enlightenment on sexual abuse can lead to implementation, increased advocacy and positive proactive responses to sexual abuse. Therefore, there should be an effective and frequent public awareness on the media.

Implications for Health Promotion and Education

Findings from this study have implications for health promotion and education. Multiple strategies such as peer education, policy intervention as well as different channels of information dissemination including the print and electronic media which are readily accessible to students should be used to tackle the phenomenon.  General education on sexual violence including date rape has the

potentials for creating awareness and influencing knowledge and perception of students relating to date rape. Such education can be provided through the General Education Studies (a compulsory course for all first-year students of the University). Awareness of the reality, magnitude and consequences of date rape need to be raised among the study population using campus-based interventions with the active involvement of students. Positive outcomes are more likely to result from such programmess. Peer education, for instance, can help provide education on the adverse health effects of rape, coping strategies and cognitive skills for appraising and avoiding situations that can lead to rape. A sexual rights policy for the University community which aims at changing the norms, attitudes and beliefs that support date rape is an effective strategy for addressing date rape and other related sexual violent acts23. The policy would have a pivotal role to play in serving as framework for the design, implementation and evaluation of University-based anti-violence educational interventions in general


Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that the government and other stakeholders need to fully initiate and implement sexual abuse preventive policies. As a matter of urgency academic and administrative staff should be trained on how to utilize sexual abuse policies foe effectiveness. The female students should be provided with adequate information about policies and support services available to reduce sexual abuse. In addition, strict adherence to the ethics of places of work, keeping to decent and acceptable dress code will help in reducing sexual abuse of female students in tertiary institutions in Northern Nigeria in particular and Nigeria in general.


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