Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Nidhi Vij Mali

Relational Format



The primary purpose of this study is to determine the associations between socio-demographic factors and sexual behaviors in teens based on bivariate analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey for 2015. In conducting a comparative analysis of survey data for both the United States and the state of Mississippi, this study aims to depict a picture of the state of teen sexual behaviors both nationally and in Mississippi. A secondary quantitative analysis of the Mississippi survey dataset also sets out to highlight any possible significant relationships between teen sexual behaviors and certain types of sex education curriculum. This thesis uncovers findings about the factors related to teen sexual behaviors in hopes of providing a foundation for future research to be conducted that would better measure the effectiveness of Mississippi’s sex education programs. From the analysis, significant relationships between age, sexual initiation, and contraceptive usage both in the national dataset and the Mississippi dataset. Along with this, significant relationships between sexual initiation and gender, race/ethnicity, and alcohol usage were also established in both datasets. Regarding the analysis of the curriculum, no significant relationships were found between the presence of a formal sex education and any sexual behaviors as well as abstinence-based curriculum and any sexual behaviors. Three significant relationships were found between certain sexual behaviors (sexual initiation, current sexual activity, and birth control use) and curriculum that included birth control instruction. Although the findings support and contribute to much of the existing literature, shortcomings still remain. For instance, secondary analysis can further the understanding and effectiveness of Mississippi sex education laws, but the implications of the secondary analysis are limited due to the lack of information on participant location in the dataset. More research and data collection are recommended to manage such a study and such efforts are highly encouraged in order for one to conduct a quality policy analysis of Mississippi’s sex education laws.



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