Environmental determinants of maladaptive behaviours among adolescents in senior secondary schools in nsukka education zone of enugu state

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Background of the Study

Throughout the world, the family or the home of a child is seen as the first environment of a child and also the basic social unit for human development. The environment a child grows in is seen as the

headquarters of human upbringing. Indeed, a child spends a great deal of time in the home and this plays a fundamental factor in a child’s life. The environment or home of a child can render him useful or useless. According to Ambert (2005), environment has facilitated the development of problematic behaviours among adolescents. Environment according to Einstein (2001) is everything that is not man. Einstein maintained that it is the sum total of all surrounding of a living organism, including natural forces and other living things, which provide conditions for maladaptive behaviours. Boring (2003) defined environment as the sum total of all the external forces, influences and conditions, which affect the life, nature,

behaviour and the growth, development and maturation of living


Operationally, environment is all the surrounding, conditions and influences that affect the development of living things. It includes the food we eat, the air we breathe, and other things that are and have social contents which we experience. The cities and towns we live in, our relationship with our parents, peers and teachers and our continuing interactions at work and at home.


Environment has facilitated the development of maladaptive behaviours such as risky sexual behaviours, smoking, coming late to school, fighting, among young adults (Ambert, 2005). Based on this contribution, environment is a strong determinant factor that influences the development of adolescent behaviour. Human beings are never static. Changes occur in all aspects of human life. If the environment is favourable, the adolescent will develop maximally behaviourally, physiologically, sociologically and emotionally.

On the hand when the environment is unfavourable, maladaptive behaviours could set in. Odigbo (2000) defined maladaptive behaviour as any behaviour or action which deviates from the acceptable mode of conduct. Onwuasoanya (2006), defined maladaptive behaviour as a deviation from acceptable, desirable and appropriate behaviour which interferes with the individual’s growth and development and that of others around him. Thus, maladaptive behaviour denotes some form of disorder which arises from a negative of the established rulers rules, regulations, laid down procedures and patterns of normal behaviour in the conduct of human activities.

Operationally maladaptive behaviour deviant can be defined as a type of behaviour which may be regarded as appropriate in one ethnic cultural or religious group or unacceptable behaviour in another group due to cultural differences norms and values in the society. Ngwoke and Eze (2002) stated clearly that irrespective of controversy among developmental psychologists on whether heredity (nature) is more important than environment (nurture) to human behaviour, there is a continuous interaction between one or two factors. They further noted that functional development is the product of the interaction of the organism with its environment. The implication here is that environmental factors may be issues in maladaptive behaviours in

schools. Environment is termed favorable if it facilitates the growth and development of good behaviour pattern of the individual but when environment is unfavorable, disruptive behaviouirs set in. This may be referred to as environmental determinants which are considered as conditions that affect the behaviour and development on an individual (adolescents) and circumstances that within the time range.

Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and

adulthood (maturity. It is a time in a person’s life when he or she develops from a child into an adult. This period of development poses a lot of problems such as moodiness, rebellion, sad loss of childhood innocence, loss of interest in parental upbringing to the young adult, the home, the school and the entire society (Ezeh 2005).

Adolescence is also a time when risks of sexual and other forms of abuse, exploitation, violence, and drive for autonomy are high. (Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick 2000). They further stated that it is a real fact when it comes to sensitive areas such as sexual and reproductive health and gender relations. According to Aggleton, Hurry and Warwick (2000) the period may be long or short depending on the traditional or modern outlook or background of the adolescent. They further noted that the period of the adolescence in traditional setting is shorter; but in modern seeting it is longer. Operationally adolescence is a critical period of development that demands the love, care and attention from parents for proper adjustment in the society.  Adolescent as noted by Hornby (2000)

is a youngster, young person, a teenager.

Operationally, adolescents are young people who are developing from childhood into adulthood; they are usually between ages of 13 and 18. This is an exciting and be wilding age, but everyone passes this period with different experiences not just because of individual

differences but because of ethnic and cultural differences we belong to. Goleman (2005) is of the same opinion that “countries, cultures and traditions needs the best for their young generation; besides, adolescence may be viewed differently from one community or culture to the next.”  Further more, the changes in adolescents may be smooth or

fraught with problems, but in-spite of the cultural differences, the biological changes from childhood into mature adulthood capable of reproduction is common (Aggleton, et al 2000). As they noted above, different cultures or countries determine when the period of adolescence will terminate. In Nigeria context for instance, the period of adolescence is very brief and it ends when there is biological maturity and when certain responsibilities are undertaken by the adolescent or by the families on their behalf. The modern way is more precise, the period tends to coincide generally with the secondary school year or age from 11 – 18years old plus.

The broad interest in the adolescence period is marked with necessity to understand the adolescents, yet there are numerous indications that adolescents’ are not well understood by significant figures who are meant to assist them such as parents, teachers, and counselors among others. According to Anda, Edwards, Felittic and Holder (2003), adolescents who were abused and neglected during

childhood by adults often exhibit offensive behaviours. Parents who fail to appreciate and recognize the personality of their adolescents usually see them as rebellious (Wisdom, 2006). Many adults seem to be unaware of their adolescents’ emotional and physical needs as well as a general appreciation of the changes and adjustment they undergo. In the same way, adolescents are in turn faced with challenges of not understanding themselves. Adult should recognize, accept and appreciate adolescents for whom they are and as well understand the true nature of adolescents and not see adolescence as a period of storm and stress. Ibe (2000) supported that the sudden changes adolescents experience in their bodies often constitute a stress in them because they are not aware of the biological or physiological changes. This ignorance could lead to maladaptive behaviours like sexual behaviours, smoking in classroom, making noise  in the classroom, drug abuse, if not properly guided by the adults.

However, maladaptive behaviours are those behaviours which

when they are exhibited by students can interference with the teaching and learning process, such behaviours include, noise making in class, lateness to school, hatred for teachers, distracting others, interrupting the teacher, drinking alcohol, being domineering, pushing and  fighting others. Also, included are use of hand set in the class, lack of interest, in

classroom  stealing, engaging in subject other than the one being

discussed, attention seeking, staying outside the class as lessons go on, sleeping in class and malpractices in assessments. These behaviour are obviously cases of maladaptive behaviour amongst students and when they are exhibited by students especially in the classroom interfere with the instructional process. It takes the good observation of a teacher to

know when a student has started exhibiting one or more of these behaviours.

When maladaptive behaviours become sustained among students they could manifest in drop out from schools, frictions between students and authorities, examinations malpractices or poor performance in school. Onyechi and Okere (2007) observed the existence of maladaptive behaviours like calling teachers provocative nicknames, walking out on teachers, noise making in class, aggression, truancy, lateness and others among secondary school students in Nsukka education zone are nothing to write home about. Nwosu, (1997) and Okolo, (2003) equally observed the prevalence of maladaptive behaviours in Nigeria secondary schools. Eze and Umani, (2007), noted that in Nigerian schools teachers believe they spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with behaviour problems compared with time spent on instruction and academic

activities. Bolarin, (1996) indicated that the effects of such maladaptive

behaviours is remarkably felt in the academic achievement as it manifests in constant poor grades in class and repetition of classes. The situation affects both boys and girls.

Generally speaking maladaptive behaviours are caused by a number of factors which may be either external or internal or a combination of factors (Odigbo, 2001). It has also been observed by Odigbo that the influence of environment is so strong and it should be pretence if we neglect the fact that these adolescents are being affected

by what is happening in the environment. Therefore we should be mindful of what goes around them in the sense that environment

produced the first and perhaps the most insistent and subtle influence on the mental development of a child; thus one of the potent determinants of adolescents’ behaviours is the family background. Adolescence stage which juveniles fall within is a critical period of development and demands the love, care and attention from parents for proper adjustment in the society.

Today, there has been a great change in most family as regards the training of children. Family which is used to be a good character-building institution, has lost most of its regulatory control. The old norms of industry, diligence and self discipline have gradually eroded, giving greater prominence to hedonistic pursuits. Adolescents are getting more confused because what they hear and see from adults even their parents do, is not what they taught. Since there is need to produce morally matured citizens, the researcher finds it necessary to work with some

environmental    determinants     of    maladaptive     behaviours     among

adolescents in senior secondary schools in Nsukka Education zone of

Enugu State.

Statement of the Problem

Prevalence of maladaptive behaviour among adolescents in Nsukka Education Zone is high. Adolescents engage in maladaptive behaviours such as risky sexual behaviours, drug abuse, lateness to school, fighting, drinking alcoholic, cultism, either as a result of what they see around them, things they read from papers, movies they watch or from their peers and even what they copy from adults. It has been observed that today in the society movies and television programmes usually, lead the young minds of adolescents into emotional state that eventually change their behaviours into experimenting what they have watched in television and movies with little or no knowledge of the risk involved. This can seriously affect the adolescents’ ability to concentrate on the pursuance of worthwhile goals. In view of stated problem above this study is faced with the problem of establishing validly environmental determinants of maladaptive behaviours among senior secondary school adolescent in

Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State.


Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to determine the environmental determinants of maladaptive behaviours among

adolescents in Nsukka Education zone of Enugu State.

Specifically, the study seek to:

  1. Ascertain the environmental factors that cause adolescents

maladaptive behaviour in senior secondary schools.

  1. Determine the extent maladaptive behaviour are exhibited

among adolescents in the school

  1. Determine consequences of adolescent’s maladaptive behaviour in the schools.
  2. Determine measures to be adopted in controlling adolescents’ maladaptive behaviour in the school.


Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance. The

outcome of the study will validate the tenets of Bandura’s theory of social

learning.  According to the theory, it provides social, cultural, educational and psychological data that enhances the proper utilization of counseling profession to assist adolescents in senior secondary schools to acquire desirable behaviours.

Practically, the findings of this study will be useful to adolescents, parents, teachers, counselors, curriculum planners, future researchers. The findings will enable the adolescents understand the need for one to be socially and morally matured. He/She learns from the parents and the larger society, and also know the type of friends he/she can keep. There is also the need to conform to the rules, norms and laws of the society, for this will make him/her achieve self actualization.

Parents also will benefit as it will enable them gain insight and understanding of the adolescence stage, their behaviour, social psychological and economic demands. The study will help parents’

improve in their parenting skills also understand the evil effects of bad mother-father relationship on the development of their children.

The findings of this study will equally be of help to teachers as it will increase their awareness as regards to high rate of maladaptive behaviour among adolescents in schools and society at large; how it affects, them academically and psychologically and device means of dealing with such students in schools.

The findings of this study will be useful to counselors. It will be of benefit to them who by nature of their work face the challenge of assisting students (adolescents). It will enable them identify those environmental factors that may lead them into acting in such a manner and thereby try to eliminate them.

It will equally help curriculum planners to identify areas of weakness in curriculum content so as to be able to alleviate such weakness and promote desirable behaviour among students.

This finding also will help the future researchers who may choose to work or replicate studies in the field of maladaptive behaviour, the work is going to be useful tool for empirical literature and information source. To this end, the findings of this study will add to the existing body of research literature which may be harnessed for future research in this area and other related fields.

Finally, the findings of this study will awaken the policy makers in government about rampart cases of maladaptive behaviours among

adolescents in our schools. To this end, they will be able to plan towards finding solutions to this problem as well as making policies that can enhance the elimination of some school indiscipline that influence adjustment problems in schools.


Scope of the Study

The study has geographical and content scope. Geographically, this study is delimited to senior secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. In terms of the content coverage, this study will be concerned with environmental factors, extent maladaptive behaviour are being exhibited, consequences as well as measures for controlling maladaptive behaviour.


Research Questions

The following research questions were posed to guide the study.

  1. To what extent are maladaptive behaviour exhibited among


  1. What are the environmental factors that influence adolescent’s

maladaptive behaviour?

  1. What are the consequences of adolescent’s maladaptive behaviour?
  2. What measures could be adopted in the control of adolescents’ maladaptive behaviour?



The following hypotheses have been postulated to be tested at 0.05

level of significance was used to guide the study.

HO1: There will be no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female respondents with regards to environmental

factors that causes adolescents’ behaviour.

HO2:  There will be no significant difference between the mean responses

of male and female respondents with regards to the extent

maladaptive behaviour are exhibited among adolescents.

HO3: There will be no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female respondents with regards to the consequences of adolescents maladaptive behaviour.

HO4: There will be no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female respondents with regards to measures to be

adopted in controlling adolescents maladaptive behaviour.

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