Promoting Equity and Decreasing Disparities through Optimizing Prevention Science: Student Risk Behaviors and School Prevention Efforts in Kenyan Primary Schools: Perspectives of Teachers and School Administrators

This abstract was presented at the 2018 Society for Prevention Research Annual Meeting which was held May 29 – June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC, US.

Yu Lu University of Texas Medical Branch

Mary Gitau Clarke UniversityPeter Gitau Dixie State UniversityJeff Temple University of Texas Medical Branch

Introduction: Despite the global public health significance of adolescent risk behaviors such as bullying and substance use, it is still understudied in Kenya. Guided by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework, the purpose of the study was to assess student risk behaviors and school prevention efforts (including the school, parental, and community involvement) from Kenyan primary school teachers’ and administrators’ perspectives. 

Methods: Data were collected from 90 primary education teachers and administrators (54.4% female) working at public schools in Nyeri County, Central Province of Kenya. Participants were 54.4% female and 6.7% aged 20-29, 15.9% aged 30-39, 33.0% aged 40-49, and 44.3% were 50 years or older. The majority of participants were from schools located in a rural area (81.0%), had at least 6 years of experiences in the primary school system (92.2%), and had worked for at least 6 years at their present school (57.8%). Participants responded to survey questions about student risk behavior, school prevention efforts, student behavioral norms, school programs and policies, teacher and staff efforts, school climate, parental involvement, and community involvement. 

Results: A number of Participants (35.8%) reported that their schools were located in a neighborhood with substance abuse or violence problems. The most prevalent perceived student risk behaviors at their schools were physical fights among students (a problem at their school: 41.6%; witnessed during the past year: 41.9%), bullying (problem: 28.4%; witnessed: 36.5%), dating violence (problem: 16.9%; witnessed: 18.1%), sexting (problem: 16.8%; witnessed: 21.5%), and substance use (problem: 15.7%, witnessed: 16.7%). Notably, participants generally agreed that their schools had put good efforts to prevent student harassment/violence (73.8%) and to prevent/reduce substance use (73.8%). Multiple linear regressions indicated that problematic risk behaviors were significantly associated with teacher and staff efforts (β= -.35, p< .05) and student behavioral norms (β= .28, p< .05), F(14, 58) = 3.372, p< .01, R2= .45, after controlling for participant gender, age, education, school role, school area, and experiences. Similarly, teacher and staff efforts (β= -.38, p< .05) and student behavioral norms (β= .23, p< .05) were the two most important factors associated with past year witness of student risk behaviors, F(14, 58) = 3.98, p< .001, R2= .49. 

Conclusions: We identified the most prevalent student risk behaviors, as perceived by teachers and administrators, in Kenyan primary schools, and assessed potential factors that may influence these behaviors. Our findings, which have important implications for school-based prevention development and implementation in Kenya, will be discussed in detail.

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