Sexual and physical violence victimization among senior high school students in Ghana: Risk and protective factors

Sally Ann Ohene, Kiana Johnson, Sarah Atunah-Jay, Andrew Owusu, Iris Wagman Borowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Violence in all forms poses a concern because of associations with multiple adverse effects including injuries and mental health problems. There is however limited data on violence in general and youth violence in particular in Ghana. To explore the nature and scope of youth violence in Ghana, we used the nationwide Global School-based Health Survey, conducted among senior high school students in Ghana, to explore risk and protective factors at the individual, family, and environmental levels associated with sexual and physical violence victimization. A fifth of these students reported being forced to have sex in their lifetime while two out of five had been a victim of a physical attack in the year preceding the survey. In final multivariate analysis, for sexual violence victimization, history of sexual activity with or without condom use at last sex, feeling sad or hopeless, and being a victim of bullying and electronic bullying were identified as risk factors, while having friends who were not sexually active was protective. Independent risk factors for physical violence victimization were attempting suicide in the last year, alcohol use in the past month, and bullying other students in the past month. Parent respect for privacy just reached significance as a protective factor for physical violence victimization in the final model. Recognition of the magnitude of violence victimization among Ghanaian students and associated factors must be used to guide development and implementation of appropriate concrete measures to prevent and address the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the students, teachers, and Ghana Education Service for their participation and assistance in the Global School-based Student Health Survey. KJ was supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care, grant no. T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. SAO is a WHO staff member. The content of this article does not necessarily represent WHO policies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Ghana
  • Physical violence
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors
  • Sexual violence
  • Victimization
  • Youth violence prevention


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