Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Knowledge and Perceptions of Risks Associated with Teen Sex

While findings from the prior chapter show no evidence that programs affected behavior, results from an earlier DHHS study report had indicated that programs had statistically significantly impacts on the health, family, and sex education services that youth received (Maynard et al. 2005).В  Perhaps most notable among these changes was a reported increase in the value of these services for understanding pregnancy and STD risks.В  Using data from the final follow-up survey, this chapter examines whether these changes in services resulted in sustained impacts on knowledge of STDs and the potential risks associated with sexual activity.В  In addition, the chapter examines whether programs affected youth perceptions about the effectiveness of condoms or birth control pills for preventing pregnancy and STDs.[1]

Findings indicate that both program and control group youth had a good understanding of their risks for pregnancy but a less clear understanding of STDs, particularly with respect to their health consequences.В  Programs display some modest gains on measures of these outcomes.В  On a measure of STD identification, program group youth reported significantly higher average levels of knowledge than their control group counterparts.В  One program, My Choice, My Future!, is largely responsible for this result.В  My Choice, My Future! also displayed a significant impact on two knowledge scales associated with pregnancy and STD risks.

Additional findings indicate program and control group youth had similar perceptions of condom effectiveness for preventing pregnancy, but program group youth were less likely than control group youth to perceive condoms as effective at preventing STDs.В  The same pattern is evident for perceptions of birth control pills.В  While program and control group youth had similar perceptions of whether birth control pills are effective for preventing pregnancy, program group youth were less likely than control group youth to perceive them as effective at preventing STDs.В  As with the knowledge findings, My Choice, My Future! displays the most consistent evidence of affecting these perceptions.

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