oa South African Journal of Child Health - Sexual harassment in South African schools : is there an association with risky sexual behaviours? - research

Volume 2018 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1994-3032
  • E-ISSN: 1999-7671



Background. Several drivers of risky sexual behaviour are known, although research has not yet examined the relationship between experiences of sexual harassment at school and risky sexual behaviours among adolescents. 

Objective. To examine the association between peer- and teacher-perpetrated sexual harassment and risky sexual behaviours among adolescents in South Africa. 

Methods. Cross-tabulations and logistic regression models were fitted to data from 219 456 school-going adolescents (aged 10 - 19 years) who participated in the fourth South African National HIV, Behaviour and Health Survey (2011/2012). The outcomes were lack of condom use during last sexual activity and multiple sexual partnerships. 

Results. Of the respondents who had experienced sexual harassment by peers, 27.27% did not use a condom during their last sexual activity and 41.67% reported having had multiple sexual partnerships. Of the respondents who had experienced sexual harassment by a teacher, 5.56% reported to have had multiple sexual partnerships in the study period. Results show that respondents who had experienced peer-perpetrated sexual harassment were more likely to not have used a condom during their last sexual activity (odds ratio (OR) 1.08; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 - 1.11), as were those who had experienced teacher-perpetrated sexual harassment (OR 1.37; 95% CI 1.32 - 1.43). 

Conclusion. A substantial number of school-going adolescents were found to have experienced sexual harassment and engaged in risky sexual behaviours. Sexual harassment at school should be considered as part of programmes aimed at addressing risky sexual behaviours among adolescents.

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