Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Teenagers-Attitudes, Teenagers-Decision making, Teenagers-Sexual behavior, Sex instructions for teenagers, Adolescent sexual culture, Sex education, Sex and emotions


Although sex surrounds us in many ways learning about it in an honest, open and factual way seems more uncommon than common. This study was designed to examine how individuals gathered information about sex prior to their first sexual experience, how they made decisions to have sex for the first time and what sort of impact their decisions have had on their perspectives on sex. It was hypothesized that individuals who had access to and utilized a broad range of factual information including speaking to trusted, experienced individuals, such as parents and adults with whom they were close, were more likely to have pleasurable first and continued sexual experiences. This qualitative exploratory study compiled individual perspectives from ten participants between the ages of 18-25, who described their paths toward sexual knowledge and what they found most beneficial in helping them learn about having a positive sexual experience. Participants were from around the US, identified with various sexual orientations, and had either completed or were pursuing higher education. They were asked their thoughts around themes such as: whether information gathered was useful or misleading; discussions of sex in their family; and their expectations of their first sexual experience. Major findings included participants utilizing sexual education in school as a major source of information and participants feeling unprepared regarding the emotional involvement of sex. This study provides useful information about how young adults have gathered information about sex and the impact it has on their understanding of the experience prior to engaging in it.




iii, 87 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 78-79)