Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Existing Health, Family Life, and Sex Education Services

Both rural school districts-the Powhatan school district and the districts in Mississippi  offered only a modest degree of health, family-life, and sex education (Table II.2, lower panel). In Powhatan, all eighth grade youth not enrolled in My Choice, My Future! participated in a nine-week health and physical education class. This class covered alcohol, drugs, tobacco, personal safety, communicable and non-communicable diseases, consumerism, mental health, nutrition, and fitness. However, the class did not cover sex education, STDs, contraceptive use, abstinence from sexual activity, or marriage. In ninth grade, these students were enrolled in a health course that covered similar health topics. While the ninth grade course included material on abstinence, it did not cover sex education or contraceptive use. Teens in Control operated in schools that had an even more limited, district-wide health, family-life, and sex education curriculum for elementary and middle school youth. Usual services consisted of occasional presentations by outside organizations that generally consisted of a few sessions over a period of weeks.

Compared to the rural districts, both urban school districts offered a fairly significant set of health, family-life, and sex education services. The Miami Dade County Public Schools, served by ReCapturing the Vision, had a mandated health and sex education curriculum for youth in grades six through eight, which included a week long unit each year on human growth and development taught as part of the science class. The curriculum covered the stages of reproduction and human development and included discussions of contraceptive use. The sixth grade curriculum also covered drug and alcohol prevention, peer pressure, STDs, and the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity. The Milwaukee Public Schools, served by FUPTP, already had a mandatory family life curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12, a curriculum that both program and control group youth experienced. This curriculum included what was described as grade appropriate coverage of comprehensive health education; sexuality and HIV/AIDS; drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; and violence prevention. Abstinence and contraceptive use were covered beginning in fifth grade.

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