All the 14 selected schools in the LGA participated in the study, yielding 420 usable copies of the questionnaires (100% of eligible students). All Parents/guardians consented to their wards participating in the survey.
Factors influencing the adoption of sexual abstinence
The findings from the focus group discussions revealed that in line with the quantitative survey, factors such as age, gender, peer pressure, economic status, religiosity, family background, myths and misconception influenced the adoption of sexual abstinence.
All the groups were in concordance that females and younger adolescents aged 10 to14 years were more likely to abstain from premarital sex.
Major reasons why respondents felt the females abstained more include the fear of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, unequal gender norms which label girls who are sexually active as being promiscuous as well as the traditional norms which do not support premarital sex. These views were reflected in the quotes of two-females and one-male discussants in the 15-19 year age group
"Having sex with a boy is a problem, you don't know the problem with that boy, you only see the face, and you can't see the internal part of his body. So I think the problem is that after you marry, you send it (a sexually transmitted infection) to your husband, so both husband and wife would be carrying the disease"
"You won't be disgraced, because if you had sex with someone before you married, and later became a millionaire, the first person you had sex with would be saying this girl, I have had sex with her before; she has become a dog to me"
"In Yoruba land (an ethnic group in Nigeria), if a man should marry a girl, and after their marriage, if they went inside and he met the girl (have sexual intercourse), and there is no blood stain on the bed after, which is what signifies that the person is a virgin she and her household will be put to shame"
The groups also stated that males aged 10 to 14 years were more likely to abstain compared to females in that age group due to the fact that older boys would pressurize them to have premarital sex.
Another factor restraining the adoption of abstinence was peer pressure. This opinion was expressed in the quote of a male discussant in the 15-19 year age group. He said
"Show me your friend and I would tell you who you are, it (peer pressure) really affects because if I say I am a saint, but as soon as I see my friends, guys, going around with girls I will feel somehow odd. So, it really affects"
Economic status was also identified as a major influencing factor. Majority of the participants agreed that being economically dependent on a romantic partner hinders adolescents' ability to abstain from premarital sex. Opinions were split on the influence of poverty and the desire to get rich as major influencers. While some participants opined that the poor abstain more due to inability to bear the cost of unwanted pregnancy and of treating sexually transmitted infections, the view point of others was that the poor abstain less because poverty forces them to engage in premarital sex. The rich, according to them, thus exploits the poor.
The opinions expressed by most of the respondents on the influence of economic status are encapsulated in the quotation of a 15-19 year old male. He said "I think the rich and the poor work hand in hand, I have money and I give it to a poor girl who has no money so everything is now "money for hand back for ground" (act of sexual intercourse). So I give her the money and have sex with her. The rich have sex with the poor because the poor needs something"
All the groups agreed that all religion supports the adoption of abstinence. According to them, Islam and Christianity in particular support abstinence. A 10 - 14 year-old female stated thus
"Being a Christian makes one to abstain and it is in the bible, that though shall not commit fornication - for example in my church, if you are pregnant, my pastor would not join the couple together (conduct the marriage ceremony)"
The groups opined that the media play dual roles. Some Television and radio programmes promote abstinence; on the other hand, some promote premarital sex. The type of programme viewed on the media determines the role it will play in either promoting or obstructing the adoption of abstinence.
Several myths which are widespread among young people were mentioned by the discussants. According to them, this had a great influence on their decision to abstain from premarital sex. The major myths mentioned are as follow:
If a male does not have sex by age 16, it means he is impotent and may frequently have stomach upset. In addition, he may have a low sperm count and thus, won't be able to acquire the skills needed to have sexual intercourse in the future.
If a female does not have sex by age 19, her vagina may close up and when she wants to have sex later, it will be painful. She may also be infertile, or have problems having her first child and may have to undergo caesarean operation during childbirth.