Cyber Dating Abuse and Undergraduate Students’ Academic Engagement in Selected Universities in Nairobi City County, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to establish the influence of Cyber Dating Abuse (CDA) on the academic engagement of undergraduate students. The objectives of the study were: to establish the students’ perception of CDA; identify the kinds of technology used in perpetrating different forms of CDA; assess gender differences in CDA perpetration and victimization; examine the extent to which CDA affects academic engagement of Kenyan University students and propose strategies to mitigate on effects of CDA on academic engagement. The study adopted two theories: Routine Activities Theory which states that the daily activities which individuals engage in make them susceptible to CDA and Johnson’s Typology of Intimate Partner Violence which outlines different kinds of Intimate Partner Violence. The study utilised a cross sectional descriptive survey research design. The respondents comprised a convenience sample of 384 students from three randomly selected Universities, namely: Multimedia University of Kenya, Kenyatta University and Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi City County; three Deans of Students and two Student Counsellors purposively selected. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected through questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews. Piloting of the study was done in University of Nairobi to validate the content and face validity of instruments while the internal consistency method was used to ascertain their reliability. Data was analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively and presented in Tables, Charts and Graphs. Results indicate that majority of the respondents had misguided perceptions and normalized most of the CDA behaviours. The respondents’ routine activities involved constant exchange of calls, SMS, online chats providing avenues for CDA victimization. WhatsApp was the most used digital media to perpetrate CDA. Results revealed that the four types of violence outlined by Johnson (2005) were evident with Coercive Control Violence being the most pervasive. Although no differences were found in the prevalence rates in CDA perpetration and victimization for males and females, significant gender differences were noted for specific CDA behaviours. On perpetration, males were more likely to perpetrate sexual coercion than females while for victimization, males were more likely than females to report frequent victimization in direct aggression and sexual coercion. Gender was statistically and significantly associated with response to four acts of CDA behaviours of: partners spreading rumours; threats of physical harm; pressurizing partners to have sex or engage in sexual activities online and pressurizing them to exchange sexual photos and videos. On the contrary, both males and females reported frequently suffering from depression, anxiety and fear. Results indicated that a significant negative correlation (r (313) = -.193, p =< .001) existed between victimization and behavioural academic engagement but no significant correlation existed between victimization and emotional academic engagement. Finally, based on the high prevalence rates reported and negative consequences experienced by victims, the study put forth suggestions for interventions which could mitigate on the negative effects of CDA. It was suggested that the three Universities should include CDA in existing policies such as the social media policy and in policies on sexual harassment and interpersonal violence within University settings. Also, there was need to create awareness on CDA and its prevention to promote healthy dating and enhance behavioural academic engagement.