Explaining the Help- Seeking Intentions of Adolescents Subject to Sexual Exploitation in Tanzania: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior

Budeba P. Mlyakado

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The sexual exploitation (SE) of children and adolescents is a universal
concern. Numerous empirical studies have examined the prevalence and
consequences of this phenomenon worldwide, but there is little information
on the factors that determine the help-seeking intentions of adolescents
subject to SE in Tanzania. We drew on the theory of planned behavior (TPB)
to address this knowledge gap. The study had two main objectives. First,
we examined four TPB variables (attitudes toward seeking help, perceived
social support, perceived social stigma, and generalized self-efficacy) as
determinants of the Tanzanian adolescents’ help-seeking intentions. Second,
we explored the moderating effects of social stigma on the relationship
between the examined TPB factors and the adolescents’ help-seeking
intentions. A cross-sectional survey design was used to collect data from
a stratified random sample of 1,116 secondary school adolescents aged
13-17 (M = 15.66; SD = 1.09). The participants were recruited from two regions in the east and northwest of Tanzania and data were analyzed using
hierarchical multiple regression. The results indicate that the TPB variables
of attitude toward seeking help, perceived social support, and generalized
self-efficacy were positively associated with the help-seeking intentions
of adolescents subject to SE, but not social stigma. Through moderation
analyses, we found that social stigma significantly weakened the explanatory
power of the attitude toward seeking help. The findings of this study in the
context of Tanzania were discussed and implications for policy, practice, and
future research were suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2021


  • Tanzania
  • adolescents
  • help-seeking intention
  • moderation
  • sexual exploitation
  • social stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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