According to Timmerman (2004) his research on adolescents' psychological health and experiences with unwanted sexual behavior at school was triggered by previous research findings. Previous research indicated that sexual harassment at school had major implications on the welfare of adolescents. In addition, there was a direct relationship between high rates of sexual harassment and high rates of psychological, academic and low esteem among adolescents. Previous findings also indicated that boys and girls at the adolescence stage exhibit different types of behavior and effects if sexually harassed. Further, girls are more likely to be sexually harassed and that they are more likely to depict sever behaviors such as low self esteem, suicidal attempts and unwanted sexual behavior than boys.
Timmerman had made two assumptions prior to conducting his research. These assumptions were based on previous research findings. Firstly, Timmerman hypothesized that his research findings would prove that unwanted sexual behavior among adolescents leads to severe psychosomatic issues and low self esteem. Secondly, he hypothesized that the effects of unwanted sexual behavior among adolescence would vary between girls and boys. His assumption was that girls would have severe effects and responses to unwanted sexual behavior than would boys.
The population sample for this research included 2808 students (both boys and girls). The demographics for this research covered fourth year secondary school students. The area covered included the Northern and Central parts of Netherlands. Random sampling was used to select schools in the Northern region while systematic sampling was used to select schools in the Central region. A total of twenty two school participated in this research.
The research instrument used for this research was a questionnaire. Before the students were issued with the questionnaires the standard procedure of seeking parental consent was sort. In order to investigate the two key issues (psychosomatic problems and self esteem), the questionnaires were structured to answer paramount questions that relate to the students welfare, family, school and the different contexts of unwanted sexual behavior experienced in the previous year.
To measure for psychosomatic problems, students used a nine-item scale for psychosomatic issues and a four-item scale to measure the occurrence of such issues. Further, self esteem was measured using a ten item scale. The dependent variable for these research were psychosomatic problems and self esteem while the independent variables were unwanted sexual behavior, gender, type of school and home situation.
Results of Timmerman research indicate that psychosomatic problems and self esteem demonstrate a strong relationship with unwanted sexual behavior. Therefore, his findings were in line with his first hypothesis which indicated that students who undergo sexual harassment are more likely to exhibit health problems as compared to students who are not sexually harassed. Further, Timmerman’s results indicated that among all the independent variables, gender illustrated the greatest relationship with self esteem and psychosomatic problems. This therefore was in line with his second hypothesis which assumed that girls were more likely to depict severe responses and effects to unwanted sexual behavior as compared to boys.
Adolescents' psychological health and experiences with unwanted sexual behavior at school as illustrated in Timmerman’s research findings raises valid questions about the welfare of students and the relevance of health education in schools. Such findings are vital since they could provide relevant data for policy formulation and ways of detecting and preventing sexual harassment among adolescence in schools. This information is also important for purposes of dealing with sexual harassment victims and curbing psychosomatic and self esteem issues at an early stage before they manifest themselves in the adult stage.