Influence of Sexual Harassment on High School Students’ Self-Esteem in Selected Secondary Schools in Nyamira and Kiambu Counties, Kenya
Ondicho, Naom Kemuma
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learning worldwide. This is in spite of existing global and local laws, policies, rules and regulations. This has left thousands of students affected daily, regardless of their gender. Research findings suggest that sexual harassment negatively affects students’ self-esteem. However, many of these findings are based on contexts outside Kenya thereby leaving a huge gap in knowledge given that self-esteem is a critical component of student’s participation and achievement in school. The purpose of this study was to describe and explore sexual harassment in selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties and its influence on students’ self-esteem. The specific objectives of the study were: To determine the prevalent form of school-based student sexual harassment in different learning environments in selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties, to establish the influence of verbal sexual harassment on student self-esteem in the selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties, to investigate the influence of physical sexual harassment on student self-esteem in selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties, to find out the influence of visual sexual harassment on students’ self-esteem in selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties, to establish strategies used by schools in addressing school-based student sexual harassment in selected secondary schools in Nyamira and Kiambu counties. The study was guided by a theoretical framework based on Finkelhor and Browne’s (1985) Traumagenic Dynamics Model. The study utilized the descriptive survey research design adopting both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. The target population for the study was 24,513 persons comprising of 23,659 students, 678 teachers, 88 Deputy Principals and 88 Coordinators of G/C. The study sample was obtained through stratified random sampling which involved categorising the schools first into public and private schools and then further stratifying them into boys only, girls only and mixed sex secondary schools. From this stratification, Deputy Principals and Coordinators of G/C and class teachers were purposively sampled to participate in the study. Proportionate simple random sampling was used to obtain a sample of students from the two counties. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected by the use of a School Sexual Harassment Questionnaire (SSHQ), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), interview and Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) guides. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics while qualitative data were analyzed thematically and presented in narratives and in verbatim form. Findings revealed that sexual harassment was rife in secondary schools and that verbal sexual harassment was the most prevalent form of harassment reported by majority of respondents. The results established that sexual harassment had a negative influence on students’ self-esteem. The findings revealed that G/C is among strategies considered effective in addressing sexual harassment. The study recommended initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry of Education and supported by other stakeholders aimed at strengthening new and existing mechanisms of eliminating sexual harassment in schools and boosting students’ esteem levels including Guidance and Counselling services, observance of existing guidelines and policies and stakeholder sensitization forums in order to address school-based student sexual harassment which has a negative influence on students’ esteem.