Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Peer Support for Abstinence Erodes as Youth Move Through Adolescence

04/13/2007

At the time when most Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs are completed and youth enter their adolescent years, support for abstinence among their friends falls dramatically. For example, survey data from the start of the impact study show that nearly all youth had friends who exhibited attitudes and behaviors supportive of abstinence. Four years later, however, the typical youth in the study reported that only two of his or her five closest friends remained supportive of abstinence.

Youth who participate in Title V, Section 510 programs may also find themselves unable to maintain their peer networks as they advance from elementary to middle school or from middle school up through high school. In some urban settings, for example, the parent(s) of a child attending a particular middle school might have the option of sending that child to potentially dozens of high schools in the school district. Alternatively, in many other communities, children from several elementary (or middle) schools might feed into a single middle (or high) school. To the extent that the Title V, Section 510 abstinence programs aim to influence peer networks, this dispersal or dilution of peer networks after youth complete the programs presents a significant challenge to sustaining positive change.

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