Faculty: Health Sciences And Technology
Pre-marital sex among secondary school adolescents has been identified to be on the increase worldwide. Adolescents are susceptible to peer group influence and pressure. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and variables influencing pre-marital sex among secondary school adolescents in Anambra State of Nigeria. A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted among secondary school adolescents in Anambra State. Data was collected using a pre-tested, structured, self-administered questionnaire. Respondents were selected using a multistage sampling technique. The instrument used for data collection in the study was the Secondary School Student Sex Variables Questionnaire (SSSVQ) which was constructed by the researcher. Data was analyzed with SPSS version 20 and summarized using proportions, while associations were tested using chi-square test and logistic regression. Level of statistical significance was set at 5%. A total of 955 respondents were surveyed. More than half of the respondents (54.8%) are aged between 14 and 17 years of age. Males constituted 56.9% of all the respondents while the rest were females. The SSS1 respondents made up the largest proportion of the subjects (32.5%) while the JSS 3 class constitutes the least proportion (17.4%). The urban respondents were 53.3% as opposed to the students in rural areas who made up 46.7% of total. Half of the respondents are from a family of 4-7 children in their family, 28.3% has 1-3 children in their family while 21.7% have >8 children in their family. Whereas 55.4% of the secondary school adolescents attend public schools, 44.6% attend private schools. The prevalence of pre-marital sex among the respondents was 66.6%. Among the 636 respondents who have had pre-marital sex, 500 (78.6%) were males, while 136 (21.4%) were females (X2 = 0.010, df=1, p=0.010). Out of the 6536 respondents that have had pre-marital sex, 200 (31.5%) were in SS3, 203 (31.9%) were in SS2, 170 (26.7%) were in SS1 and 63 (9.9%) were in JS3 (X2=10.500, df=3, p=0.030). Fifty five percent (55%) 350 were in the 14-17 years age bracket, 200 (31.5%) were in the ≥18 years age bracket, and 86 (13.5%) were in the 10-13 years age bracket (X2 = 6.020, df=2, p=0.040). Fifty six (8.8%) had 1-3 siblings, 400 (62.9%) had 4-7 siblings while 180 (28.3%) had ≥8 siblings (X2 = 7.030, df=2, p=0.040). Four hundred and ten (410) (64.5%) were in the urban area, while 226 (35.5%) were in the rural area. (X2=9.9196, df=1, p=0.027). Male respondents were twice more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than the female respondents [OR: 2.431, (95% CI: 1.705-3.465), p=0.000]. Respondents that were in Senior Secondary 2 and above (≥SS2) were 3 times more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than those that were in Senior Secondary 1 and below (≤SS1) [OR: 3.257, (95% CI:2.385-4.450), p=0.000]. Students who were 14 years or older (≥14 years) were twice more likely to engage in pre-marital than those that were 13 years or younger (≤13 years) [OR: 2.908, (CI: 2.153-3.928), p=0.000]. Respondents that were from families with 4 or more children (≥4 children) were 4 times more likely than those from families with 3 or less children (≤3 children) to engage in pre-marital sex [OR: 4.139, (CI:2.945-5.817), p=0.010], while those that live in the urban areas were twice more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than respondents who live in the rural areas [OR: 2.000, (CI: 1.180-2.143) p=0.002]. Students who had “medium extent exposure to mass media or more” (≥ME) were 3 times more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than those who had “low extent exposure to mass media or less” (≤LE) [OR: 3.153, (CI: 2.270-4.380). Respondents who had “medium extent exposure to peer pressure or more” (≥ME) were twice more likely to engage in pre-marital sex than those who had “low extent exposure or less” (≤LE) [OR: 2.240, (CI: 1.601-3.134), p=0.030]. This study revealed that the prevalence of pre-marital sex among secondary school students in Anambra State was high. Also the predominant factors that influenced pre-marital sex were identified: Male gender, higher age, higher class of study, large family size, urban location, peer pressure and exposure to mass media.