The prevalence of sexual harassment within a student sample of Stellenbosch University

Steenkamp, Francois Rudolph (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Due to the extensive prevalence of sexual violence permeating the present day South African society, the social relevance of a study of the extent and nature of sexual harassment among university students, cannot be overestimated. This is particularly evident if one takes into account the growing number of research studies undertaken in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent indicating the presence of this social evil on campuses of higher education. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence, effects, correlates and perceptions of different types of sexual harassment among a student sample at Stellenbosch University. The methodology applied in this study can be viewed as quantitative in nature as it entailed the use of a survey design. The researcher developed a new questionnaire to investigate the pervasiveness of students’ experience of, reaction to, and beliefs about sexual harassment. This questionnaire consisted of sub-scales, of which some were newly developed by the researcher, and others, based on existing scales, were adapted for the purposes of this study. The design took the form of a questionnaire that covered the time period during which the students were enrolled at Stellenbosch University. Both undergraduate and post-graduate students from the four campuses of Stellenbosch University (i.e., Bellville, Saldanha, Stellenbosch and Tygerberg) were invited to participate in the study. The total sample consisted of 1679 students. The electronic questionnaire consisted of a total of 27 separate questions with some of the questions having various sub-sections. Data were obtained on the socio-demographic profile of students. The questionnaire explored student perceptions of which behavioural types constituted sexual harassment, the number of times a participant had been a victim of a particular type of sexual harassment, whether alcohol or drugs played a contributory role in the victimisation, whether the participant sought help from available support services following the victimisation, the location of the incidents of sexual harassment and whether the offender was known to the victim or not. Gender role attitudes of students, indicating the extent to which sexual harassment is tolerated by the student community, were also investigated. The questionnaire furthermore explored issues of same-sex sexual harassment, the occurrence of group harassment and the possible effects, be it social, emotional or academic, that the victim might have suffered. The relationships between certain measurement scales were also investigated. With the utilisation of statistical packages, frequencies and statistical differences amongst various sub-groups were determined. Significant findings of the study included gender, racial and sexual orientation subgroup differences in terms of the perception of, rate of prevalence and tolerance of sexual harassment. Significant statistical differences between gender, racial and sexual orientation subgroups were also established for certain variables related to the familiarity of the perpetrator, the locations of sexual harassment, help-resource utilisation following incidents of sexual harassment and the effects of sexual harassment.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vanweë die uitgebreide voorkomssyfer van seksuele geweld tans in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing, kan die sosiale relevantheid van 'n studie oor die omvang en aard van seksuele teistering nie oorbeklemtoon word nie. Hierdie veronderstelling word duidelik ondersteun deur die groeiende aantal studies in Suid-Afrika en elders in Afrika wat hierdie sosiale euwel op tersiêre kampusse ondersoek. Die doel van hierdie studie was om die voorkomssyfer, gevolge, korrelate en persepsies van verskillende tipes seksuele teistering by 'n studentesteekproef van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch te bepaal. Die metodologie van hierdie studie kan beskryf word as kwantitatief van aard aangesien daar van ‘n opnameontwerp gebruik gemaak is. Die navorser het 'n nuwe vraelys ontwikkel om die omvang van studente se ervaring van, reaksie op, en opvattings oor seksuele teistering te ondersoek. Hierdie vraelys het bestaan uit subskale, waarvan sommige nuut geskep was deur die navorser en ander wat vanuit bestaande bronne aangepas is vir die doel van hierdie studie. Die ontwerp is in die vorm van 'n vraelys wat die tydsperiode dek waarin die studente ingeskryf was by die Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Beide voorgraadse en nagraadse studente van die vier kampusse van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch (i.e., Bellville, Saldanha, Stellenbosch en Tygerberg) is genooi om deel te neem aan die navorsing. Die totale steekproef het uit 1679 studente bestaan. Die elektroniese vraelys het 27 aparte vrae gehad waarvan sommiges verskeie onderafdelings bevat het. Data is verkry oor die sosio-demografiese profiel van studente. Die vraelys het studente se opvattings bepaal oor watter gedragstipes seksuele teistering behels, asook die aantal kere wat ‘n deelnemer 'n slagoffer van 'n spesifieke soort seksuele teistering was. Verdere vrae het ondersoek of alkohol en dwelms bygedra het tot die teistering, of die deelnemer bystand gesoek het by beskikbare ondersteuningshulpbronne na die teistering, die plekke waar die seksuele teistering voorgekom het, en of die oortreder bekend was aan die slagoffer of nie. Studente se houdings oor geslagsrolle, wat aanduidend was van die mate waarin seksuele teistering verdra word in die studentegemeenskap, is ook nagevors. Die vraelys het verder kwessies verken soos selfde-geslag seksuele teistering, die voorkoms van groepsteistering en die moontlike nadelige gevolge daarvan vir die slagoffer, hetsy sosiaal, emosioneel of akademies. Die verbande tussen sekere metingskale is ook ondersoek. Met behulp van statistiese pakkette is die frekwensie en statistiese verskille tussen verskeie subgroepe op die kampus bepaal. Beduidende bevindings van die studie sluit in: geslag-, ras- en seksuele oriëntasiesubgroepverskille in terme van die persepsie van, voorkomssyfer van en verdraagsaamheid teenoor seksuele teistering. Beduidende statistiese verskille tussen die geslag-, ras- en seksuele oriëntasie-subgroepe is ook bevind met betrekking tot sekere veranderlikes wat verband hou met die bekendheid van die oortreder, die plekke van teistering, die benutting van ondersteuningshulpbronne na teistering en die gevolge van seksuele teistering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4131
This item appears in the following collections: