Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Impacts on Sexual Abstinence and Teen Risk Behaviors

An earlier DHHS study report (Maynard et al. 2005) examined the impact of the four focal programs near the end of the first school year that youth were enrolled in the study.В  At that time, youth in the study averaged only 12 years of age, far too young for researchers to assess the impact of the programs on sexual abstinence and activity.В  The earlier report therefore focused on whether the programs had impacts on any of several potential mediators of these behaviors, such as support for abstinence, communication with parents, and refusal skills.В  Findings indicated that programs did achieve short-term success on some but not all of these potential mediators; for example, program group youth were significantly more likely than control group youth to report views more supportive of abstinence and less supportive of teen sex, but they displayed no statistically significant differences in their refusal skills or communication with parents.

Using data from a final follow-up survey, collected an average of five years after youth enrolled in the study sample, this chapter examines whether the near-term gains achieved by the programs translated into longer-term impacts on behavior.В  Key among these are whether the programs increased the likelihood that youth abstained from sexual intercourse, reduced the extent of sexual activity among youth, and increased their expectations to abstain from sex in the future.В  In addition, the chapter examines the impact of the programs on potential consequences of teen sex, such as pregnancy, and risk behaviors that are correlated with teen sex, such as drug and alcohol use.

Findings indicate that, despite the effects seen after the first year, programs had no statistically significant impact on eventual behavior.В  Based on data from the final follow-up survey, youth in the program group were no more likely to abstain from sex than their control group counterparts; among those who reported having had sex, program and control group youth had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.В  Youth in the program group, however, were no more likely to have engaged in unprotected sex than their control group counterparts.В  Finally, there were no differences in potential consequences of teen sex, including pregnancies, births, and reported STDs.

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