Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

First Advisor

Dr. Sarah Jane Brubaker


This study explores factors that influence the sexual attitudes and behaviors of adolescents specifically through an examination of social constructs that measure sexual beliefs and attitudes of adolescents and the relationships between race and gender and sexual beliefs and attitudes. As the U.S. has maintained one of the highest rates of unplanned teen pregnancy and births among industrialized nations, schools and community groups have struggled to combat teen pregnancy and worked toward designing effective prevention programs. Through an emphasis either on abstinence or safe sex practices, these programs strive to influence adolescents' sexual behavior. However, studies and reports reveal a paucity of research that examines adolescents' attitudes and beliefs of sexual behavior, especially for cultural- and gender- specific groups of adolescents. Drawing from social constructionist theory and multiracial and radical feminist theoretical frameworks, this study utilizes Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative (VAEI) data from surveys administered to adolescents measuring sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This study examines race and gender differences among the participants with regard to beliefs and attitudes about sexual behavior. The goal is to both better understand race and gender influences on adolescents' sexual beliefs and attitudes and to provide information to those who are in the position to develop more successful and effective teen pregnancy prevention programs. Consistent with existing literature, findings indicate gender-based differences regarding sexual beliefs and attitudes and minimal race-based differences in this analysis. An intersectional analysis further suggests that although female adolescents across race held similar beliefs and attitudes regarding sexuality, there were differences across race among male adolescents.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008