This study investigated the environmental determinants of risky sexual behaviour among secondary school adolescents in Obollo-Afor Education Zone of Enugu State. Five research questions and two hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Data were obtained through questionnaires as measuring instrument. The population was to cover all the secondary schools in Obollo- Afor Education Zone but due to the fact that it has wide range scope, sample and sampling technique was adopted which gave rise to six secondary schools. Later stratified random sampling was used to get three hundred students. The data collected were analyzed using mean(x) score.t-test statistics was adopted in testing the hypotheses. From the findings, it was discovered that what constitutes risky sexual behaviours among adolescents include indulging in sexual acts because others are doing it, watching of pornographic films and pictures, having unprotected sexual intercourse, among others.

         The findings also revealed that the environmental factors that influence adolescents risky sexual behaviours include having friends that indulge in risky sexual behaviours, excessive intake of alcohol, lack of discipline in schools, watching of bad films, parents inability to meet their children’s needs, the urge for material gratification.

         The findings equally showed that the strategies adopted by parents, teachers and counselors to address the issue of risky sexual behaviours among adolescents are passing relevant information on sexual issues during morning assembly, stopping adolescents from watching pornographic films, pasting photographs on the damaging effects of risky sexual behaviours and the inclusion of sex education in the school curriculum. Recommendations, educational implications and suggestions for further studies were made by the research.   



Background of the study

          The syndrome of moral decadence has eaten up the norms, values and dedications which had been the culture of the society for years past. In the world today, the moral standard is no longer what it used to be even here in Nigeria. The moral legacy of our forefathers has been eroded by western civilization and culture. James (2004) had lamented that it is pathetic and alarming to note today that the world is fast turning upside down. He noted also that what we used to know about virtue, morality, respect among others, is fast fading out amongst youth (adolescents) in the society.

          Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood (maturity).It is a time in a person’s life when he or she develops from a child into an adult. This period of development poses a lot of problems such as moodiness, rebellion, sad loss of childhood innocence, loss of interest in parental upbringing.  to the young adult, the home, the school and the entire society (Ezeh 2005). Adolescence is also a time when risks of sexual and other forms of abuse, exploitation and violence are high, and when the drive for autonomy and self-definition often means a reduced reliance on parents and other adults as trusted sources of guidance and support (Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick, 2000). They further stated that it is a real fact when it comes to sensitive areas such as sexual and reproductive health and gender relations. According to Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick (2000) the period may be long or short depending on the traditional or modern outlook or background of the adolescent. They further noted that the period of the adolescence in traditional setting is shorter; but in modern setting it is longer. Adolescent as noted by Hornby (2000) is a youngster, young person, a teenager .Adolescents are young people who are developing from childhood into adulthood; they are usually between the ages of 13 and 18. This is an exciting and bewilding age but everyone passes this period with different experiences not just because of individual differences but because of ethnic and cultural differences we belong to. Goleman (2005) is of the same opinion that “ countries, cultures and traditions want what is best for their young generation; besides, adolescence may be viewed differently from one community or culture to the next”.

        Furthermore, the changes in adolescents may be smooth or fraught with problems, but in-spite of the cultural differences, the biological changes from childhood into mature adulthood capable of reproduction is common (Aggleton, et al 2000). As they noted above, different cultures or countries determine when the period of adolescence will terminate. In Nigeria context for instance, the period of adolescence is very brief and it ends when there is biological maturity and when certain responsibilities are undertaken by the adolescents or by the families on their behalf. The modern way is more precise, the period tends to coincide generally with the secondary school year or age from 11-18 years old plus.

          The broad interest in the adolescence period is marked with necessity to understand the adolescents, yet there are numerous indications that adolescents are not well understood by significant figures who are meant to assist them such as parents, teachers and counselors among others. According to Anda, Edwards, Felittic and Holden (2003), adolescents who were abused and neglected during childhood by adults often exhibit offensive behaviours. Parents who fail to appreciate and recognize the personality of their adolescents usually see them as rebellious (Wisdom, 2006). Many adults seem to be unaware of their adolescents’ emotional and physical needs, as well as a general appreciation of the changes and adjustment they undergo. In the same way, adolescents are in turn faced with challenges of not understanding themselves. Adults should recognize, accept and appreciate adolescents for whom they are and as well understand the true nature of adolescents and not to see adolescence as a period of storm and stress. Ibe (2000) supported that the sudden changes adolescents experience in their bodies often constitute a stress in them because they are not aware of the biological or physiological changes. This ignorance could lead to risky sexual behaviours if not properly guided by the adults.

          Broadly speaking, sexual behaviours are all those things we “do” such as kissing, hugging, erotic touch among others   that we consider sexual. These might be things we do with others like kissing, erotic touch, intercourse, oral sex, anal sex and manual sexual stimulation (Robinson, 1999). They are also sexual things we do when we are alone like masturbation (Robinson 1999). Also sexual behaviour is any activity-solitary between two persons, or in a group that induces sexual arousal (Safra & Collinge,2011).Sexual behaviour can equally refer to all actions and responses related to pleasure seeking. It is an individual’s ability to experience or express sexual feelings (Abah and Echodu, 2004). Moreover, sexual behaviour refers to the total action of individuals in handling their sexual impulses by way of how these impulses are felt, how to control it, how strong is the effect of the impulse, the notion of expressing it as a male or female and how to live with it (Eyo, 2004).

          Sexual behaviour could be healthy or risky. Risky sexual behaviour is any sexual activity that increases the risk of contracting Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) or other Sexually Transmitted Infections ( STIs) or becoming pregnant. Risky sexual behaviours includes early sexual debut, unprotected sexual activity, inconsistent use of condoms, high risk partners(injection drug users), survival sex-(sex in exchange for money, drugs, food or shelter) or sex with a partner who has other partners or more than one partner at a time(Aral, 1994, and Haffner, 1995).

          Risky sexual behaviour is the major factor in the rising rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Adolescents typically have high STIs rates than other groups with the highest rates of gonorrhea between the ages of 15-19 years (Aral and Haffner 1995). Risky sexual behaviour is a matter of concern with STIs, as it is now well documented that STIs have a co-factor role in HIV transmission. Adolescents who participate in risky sexual behaviours are at risk for STIs including HIV and Black Hispand among others (Andrew, 2007). Highlighting more on the prevalence of teenage pregnancy as risky sexual behaviour, Akinyemi (2001) says that “the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in any given society leads to high level of illiteracy”. Akinyemi added that it leads to a redundant and unenlightened society. The most current issue is the deadly HIV and AIDS virus that has been ravaging everywhere in the world including Nigeria.  The worst of it is that adolescents are the chief shareholders of this menace.

          Many people in Nigeria seem to be ignorant of this problem which is eating deep down into the fabrics of the Nigeria adolescents. Atimes, issues concerning the Nigerian adolescents are being discussed without enough concern given to it thus leading to an upsurge in the level of harm done. One keeps wondering what could be responsible for this licentious life style of adolescents. Is it environment or the genetic make-up of individuals that constitute this life style of adolescents.

          The word environment in this context stands for any conditions outside the individual which could affect their behaviour and development. Environment has facilitated the development of risky sexual behaviours among young adults (Ambert,2005). According to Clifford (1981) environment refers to all the complex factors, other than genetic which influences the individual’s physiological, sociological and psychological growth from time of conception to death. From this contribution, environment is a strong determinant factor that influences the development of  the adolescent. The human being is never static, changes occur in all aspects of human life-physical, social, psychological and intellectual. In adolescence stage, these changes take place at different rates differently according to one’s environment. If the environment is favourable, the adolescent will develop maximally behaviourally, physiologically, sociologically and emotionally. But when the environment is unfavourable, maladaptive behaviours sets in. Ngwoke and Eze (2002) stated clearly that irrespective of the controversy among developmental psychologists on whether heredity (nature) is more important than environment (nurture) to human behaviour, there is a continuous interaction between the two factors. They further noted that functional development is the product of the interaction of the organism with its environment. The implication here is that environmental factors may be issues in risky sexual behaviours. Environment according to Einstein (2001) is everything that is not man. Einstein maintained that it is the sum total of all surrounding of a living organism, including natural forces and other living things, which provide conditions for development and growth as well as of danger and damage. Nevertheless Boring (2003) defined environment as the sum total of all the external forces, influences and conditions, which affect the life, nature, behaviour and the growth, development and maturation of living organisms.

              Environmental determinant is considered as conditions that affect the behaviour and development of an individual (adolescent) and circumstances that happened within the time range. It is the forces and conditions that surround and influence living and non-living things (Sills, 2009).Lending credence to environmental influence, Anderson (2005) stated that both genetic and environmental dynamics are great determinant in one’s behavioural pattern. Further to Anderson’s view, there are joint contribution of nature and nurture occurring through three related processes: the genetic inheritance, the environment and the socio-cultural environment on a child’s nature. Environment could be anything outside an organism. In other words, those external factors could react negatively or positively in an individual (adolescent)

          Generally speaking, risky sexual behaviours are caused by a number of factors which may be either external or internal or a combination of both factors (Odigbo, 2001). It has also been observed by Odigbo that the influence of environment is so strong and it should be pretence if we neglect the fact that these adolescents are being affected by what is happening in the environment. Therefore, we should be mindful of what goes around them.