Sexual behaviour of the mentally retarded in selected vocational training institutions

Thumbnail Image
Samukolo, Olive
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The study focused on the sexual behaviour of the mentally retarded students in vocational training Institutions in Ndola and Lusaka districts, Zambia.There has been no empirical research existing in the study of sexuality and mental retardation in Zambia, although there is scanty literature on the sexual behaviour of the able-bodied adolescents. The few studies that have been done in Europe and elsewhere have mainly focused on mature individuals with mild or moderate intelligence in communities and patients in hospitals. Many people with mental retardation do have a sex drive and express it through sole masturbation, exactly like the majority of adolescents. The mentally retarded have sexually inappropriate behaviour including touching, grabbing, stripping,fondling, masturbation, hypersexuality and sexual abuse (Bouras, 1999).Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to study the sexual behaviour of the mentally retarded students. On account of the subjective nature of sexuality, the research study took qualitative stance for the most part. Qualitative data was also used for qualification of the recorded sexual behaviour.The interpretation and detailed discussion of quantitative data was made easierby qualitative data.60 respondents participated in the study. Respondents consisted of principals,Vice principals, Heads of departments (Administrators) (N = 10), lecturers (20),parents (20) and caretakers or hostel staff (10) from the vocational training Institutions in Ndola and Lusaka districts. Questionnaires and in-depth interviews were used to obtain information from respondents. Frequencies and percentages were used to analyse the quantitative data obtained. The qualitative data collected was transcribed from the field notes and subjected to thematic analysis. It was presented in form of document analysis in which data was examined closely by the main emerging themes.The study found that the sexual behaviour of the mentally retarded in Vocational training Institutions is a reality to practically everyone who works in this field. The mentally retarded have a high sexual feeling which sound an alarm, particularly as the gravity of the risks of sexual conduct has risen dramatically with the spread of HIV infections. The study also found that the mentally retarded have high sexual desires despite their retardation justifying that their impaired cognitive development functioning does not result in limited sexual development. The study recommended that: 1. Service providers, caregivers and parents should be trained on how to handle the sexuality of the mentally retarded. 2. All vocational training institutions must provide sex education which calls for an intensive amount of programme development in the area of sexual health to avoid placing persons with retardation at increased risks for unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/aids and sexual abuse. 3. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, parents, service providers, local communities, non - governmental organizations and line ministries should work together in ensuring the success of the provision of sex education as well as the appropriate means of sexual expression and the reinforcement of appropriate expression at the right time. 4. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training and other line ministries should include a clause within their policies to address the sexual behaviour of the mentally retarded.
Handicapped youth -- Vocational training , Sexual behaviour surveys -- Zambia. , Handicapped students , Handicapped college students