Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Hilda Shepeard


High school youth in Grades 9-12 who are in public schools without comprehensive sexual health education (CSHED) are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and have higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases than are their peers in schools with CSHED. The purpose of this correlational study was to explore the statistical relationship between the consistent implementation of CSHED, before and after the enactment of the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) sexual health education policy, and the sexual risk behaviors of Chicago high school youth in Grades 9-12. The study was based on Antonovsky's salutogenic model of health and wellbeing. CPS students' sexual risk behaviors were analyzed using data obtained from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) for the years of 2007 and 2013. Logistic regression was used to estimate prevalence and odds ratios of each sexual risk behavior. The findings showed a complex pattern of and variances across the sexual risk behaviors analyzed. The prevalence of sexual behaviors among all students remained relatively stable. The prevalence estimates for students who drank alcohol or used drugs before the last sexual encounter and who were never taught about AIDS or HIV increased from 2007 to 2013. The likelihood of not using birth control pills before the last sexual intercourse encounter decreased among Black students; the likelihood that Hispanic/Latino students ever had sex, and had sex with 4 or more people in their life, decreased. The decrease of sexual risk behaviors indicates a positive influence by CSHED, while the increases indicate continuing challenges to the promotion of healthy sexual behaviors. These findings show the need for legislators and school administrators to increase support for the enactment of CSHED policy to help mitigate the sexual risk behaviors of high school youth.