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Discussion

p. 27-31


Texte intégral

Girls

Attendance at parties

1This study has shown that a very high percentage of adolescent girls in the study area attend parties either alone or with their boyfriends and they start attending parties at a very young age. Such attendance at parties from a very early age and staying at parties overnight are factors which expose adolescents to many negative activities such as smoking, alcohol consumption, experimenting with drugs, sexual intercourse and rape. The fact that such parties usually take place at nightclubs, hotels, or public halls far away from adult supervision makes it easy for these adolescents to indulge in all kinds of undesirable activities. Therefore, there is a need to discourage adolescents from attending all-night or even all-day parties which are not chaperoned by adults. Young women who are relatively naive about sexual matters can be taken advantage of by older boys, especially when both parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Smoking

2It is clear from this study that owing mainly to peer pressure, more adolescent girls are smoking cigarettes. Adolescent girls may not be aware of the hazards of smoking, especially if they come from homes where one or both of their parents are smokers. Young girls may smoke as a result of peer pressure, curiosity or because they think it is fashionable. Therefore it is necessary to educate them on the health risks associated with smoking, especially the negative consequences on their reproductive health.

Alcohol consumption

3This study suggests that alcohol consumption among young girls is due more to curiosity than peer pressure. Girls need to be educated on the consequences of taking alcohol, especially outside their homes. They should be cautioned about the possibility that other intoxicants, which have a higher alcoholic content, could be secretly introduced into their drinks, which could make them vulnerable to all kinds of abuse (Odejide et al. 1987).

Relationships with boys

4This study has shown that more than half of the adolescent girls in secondary schools (all-girls and mixed schools) have some form of relationship with boys. These friendships often start at a relatively young age; contrary to expectation, girls in all-girls’ schools start to have boyfriends at a slightly younger age than girls in mixed schools. This may be due to a combination of factors. First, girls in mixed schools are constantly exposed to boys and as such are usually more skeptical about getting involved with boys; second, the teachers are usually on the lookout for, and discourage such relationships. Girls in all-girls schools do not have ready access to boys and as such they may even have a stronger urge to have a boyfriend, either out of curiosity or peer pressure. Another important point is that boys often prefer to go out with girls in girls’ schools, as many of them believe it is more prestigious; also they do not trust the girls in their own schools who are more familiar with their behaviour.

5This early exposure to members of the opposite sex means that girls are under pressure and are being enticed at an early age into having boyfriends and sexual intercourse. Most boys are involved in these relationships mainly for sexual adventure. The situation is vice versa, at the initial stage of the relationship with girls, that is before they are convinced to take the final plunge. The lesson to teach at this stage in the life of girls is that their studies should and must come first.

6There is no documentation which shows that the academic performance of girls who have boyfriends is below standard, although the teachers believe that having boyfriends at an early age does negatively affect the performance of such girls in class. This is an area which should be verified through further study.

7This survey has demonstrated that peer pressure among boys to get involved in sexual relationships is strongest between the ages of 15 to 17. Therefore, for any programmes to have the desired impact, it must be tailored towards the early teenage years, when peer pressure to get involved in sexual relationships is low.

8This study also shows that parents and relations encourage adolescent girls to get involved in sexual relationships. It is necessary to conduct studies to determine the factors that cause parents and relations to encourage adolescent girls to engage in sexual relationships with boys. The findings in this study confirm other reports that more adolescent girls are engaging in sexual intercourse at increasingly younger ages, and often before they reach puberty, at a time when their bodies are not even prepared for the consequences of these acts, such as teenage pregnancy. Recent studies show that early initiation to sexual intercourse is a contributory factor to cervical cancer. This is because the cells of the cervix are still undergoing changes and the introduction of foreign bodies may modify normal cell formation processes leading to the development of abnormal cells, which may be malignant. Young girls who engage in multiple sexual relationships should be made aware of the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS.

9In addition to contracting sexually transmitted diseases, early sexual relations can result in unwanted pregnancy, early motherhood, or abortion. Having a baby while in secondary school means that the girl’s education will be truncated. She may be forced into an early marriage and never finish her education. Having an abortion, which is illegal in Nigeria, may rescue the young girl from the crisis of an unwanted child, but may jeopardize her future reproductive capacity. All these factors, including the psychological effects, have a debilitating impact on the health of young women (UNICEF, 1993).

10This study has shown that the mass media have a strong capacity to modify the behaviour of adolescents either negatively or positively, depending on the quality of information provided. Therefore, mass media education has a high potential for influencing the minds of the adolescent girls in a positive direction by providing appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health. Besides the mass media, guidance counsellors in the schools could provide information on sexual and reproductive health education to these girls during schools hours. This study has also shown that peer pressure influences, to a large extent, what many adolescents do. This factor can be used to an advantage if the adolescents themselves are made to play an active role in the programmes designed to modify their own sexual reproductive health behaviour.

11It is hoped that by taking such positive steps towards solving the various problems, the incidence of teenage pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases among girls in secondary schools can be minimized.

Boys

12The trends in the behaviour of adolescent boys were similar to those for adolescent girls with respect to attendance at parties, smoking, consumption of alcohol, experimenting with drugs and sexual intercourse. However, the numbers of boys involved are relatively higher than those for girls. It is believed that the mass media which still air attractive commercials on alcohol and cigarettes are one of the major factors responsible for the high level of consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking among adolescent boys.

13The consequences of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are well known and have been documented, and they cannot be overemphasized. Tobacco is classified as a drug, because of the nicotine content. Various studies have shown that virtually all drug addicts were at one time or the other, cigarette smokers. Therefore, there is the strong need to discourage smoking among adolescents, as it can lead to other substance abuse and addiction to other inhaled drugs. There is a strong correlation between truancy and cigarette smoking as most schools forbid smoking on their grounds. Young boys who are habitual smokers rarely take their studies seriously and may end up dropping out of school.

14This study has shown that although boys do not face the risks of pregnancy and abortion, they suffer from the psychological effects in terms of the stigma attached to being a young parent in the Nigerian society. Adolescent boys are also exposed to the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, if they have sexual intercourse indiscriminately and without taking protective measures.

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