Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Melinda Goldner




sexuality, behavior, parents, adolescents, health


This thesis focuses on parental relationships, communication, and lifestyles and their potential in shaping their children's sexual attitudes and behaviors. Prior research has examined the effect of the media and schools on adolescent sexuality; however, there is little information on parents. The literature review was an evaluation of studies and written works focused on these three factors, media, schooling, and parental involvement, potentially having an effect on adolescent’s sexual attitudes and behaviors. It was found that media had a strong ability to over sexualize the youth of America. The educational aspect was two dimensional, there was clearly a positive aspect of learning about sex from a health professional’s perspective but there is great controversy in which type of education, abstinence only or comprehensive, should take place and at what age. Parental involvement left the most unanswered questions because of inconclusive findings, which is why the research of this thesis was focused on parents potential affect on their children’s sexual attitudes and behaviors. The research was split between a survey, given to 111 students, and eight one-on-one interviews. Though no findings in this sociological study can be conclusive or causational there is to some degree evidence to suggest that parental communication and sex education is associated with safe sexual activity and the use of protection. There was an assortment of limitations ranging from the sample population to the sensitive nature of the topic, but practical conclusions can still be drawn. Respondents as a whole are practicing safe sex, comfortable talking about sex with partners and friends, have communicated with their parents about sex, and had sex education in both middle and high school. The findings from this research lead to several implications, primarily the continued need for early parental involvement and positive communication. There is also a great need for sex education in schools around the country and mandated curriculum that can give adolescents safe and imperative knowledge. Findings also revealed a lack of comfort with health professionals, which showed the need for physician’s to make themselves more readily available to adolescent patients and more open and honest about sexual behaviors and attitudes. This thesis concluded with the suggestion of continued research. With a different sample population and less vague questioning there is potential for both enlightening and possibly significant findings.