Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Younghwan Song




STI, pregnancy, reproductive health, safe sex


Among all industrialized nations, the United States faces the highest rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Previous studies have indicated that teens use engagement in sexual activity as a social mechanism to gain popularity among their peers. This paper focuses on two issues: social factors such as peer perceptions towards other peers engaging in sex and using contraceptives, and assesses the level of knowledge teens have about sex, STDs, pregnancy, and contraceptives that could have an effect on the teen pregnancy and STD rates in the United States. Cross-sectional data from Waves I and II (1994-96) National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was analyzed using a probit regression model in order to investigate the effect of a teen’s attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of contraceptives and sexual activity on pregnancy for females and STD rates for males and females separately in the United States. The survey asks both male and female youth various knowledge and perception questions about sex, contraceptives, and STDs. An indexed knowledge and responsible perception variable were created and regressed against pregnancy and STD rates in the following wave. Results suggest that the knowledge variable does not have a significant effect on the pregnancy and STD rates whereas the perception variable has a significant effect on the pregnancy rate only. This suggests that further sex education initiatives should be more focused on realistic scenarios of pregnancy and STDs and facilitate discussion among peer groups on the issues of sex, pregnancy, and STDs so that teens develop a better understanding of sexual activity and the impact it may have on their futures.