Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Lachel Story, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Nursing

Abstract

Teen pregnancy and rates of sexually transmitted disease (STD) transmission among teenage Mississippians are disproportionally higher than the national average. These high rates are partially attributed to poor adolescent sex education programs in Mississippi (MS) schools. MS has a long history of inadequate sex education programs; until recently, sex education was not a required component of the curriculum. Most MS public schools teach abstinence-only education, which has been shown to be less effective than comprehensive programs. Most Mississippians probably assume that MS public schools teach the sex education programs of which the majority of Mississippians are in favor. A review of literature indicated that this was not the case in other areas across the country. To determine if the same held true for MS, a survey was completed (N=297) to determine South MS college students’ opinions and preferences for adolescent sex education, as college students are most likely to be the next generation of parents and policymakers. Results suggested that an overwhelming majority of respondents were in favor of comprehensive sex education (92.9%, n=261), including topics on the transmission, symptoms and treatment of STDs (97.2% in favor, n=242) and how to prevent pregnancy through birth control pills, condoms, and natural family planning (92.8% in favor, n=231). This study implies that there is a discrepancy between preferred methods of sex education and actual methods of sex education in MS. This research can be used to direct the development, implementation, and evaluation of sex education programs that are relevant to the needs of Mississippians. Developing sound sex education programs can minimize the negative health, psychosocial, and economic effects that teenage sexual activity can have.

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