Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Program Structure: Duration, Intensity, and Curricula

The four programs differed significantly in duration and intensity and featured a variety of curricula (Figure II.1). My Choice, My Future! served youth for three years, though at a modest level of intensity; it included 30 classroom sessions in the first year, 8 in the second year, and 14 in the third year. Teens in Control was somewhat similar; it served youth for two years and met once a week during the school day. ReCapturing the Vision served youth for only one school year, but the program met daily, making it more intense than the other two classroom-based programs. Finally, FUPTP was an after-school program that met for two and one-half hours daily throughout the school year. The program was available to students as long as they attended the program school, which could have been up to four years in some cases. This made the program both relatively long and intense, assuming youth chose to attend.

 

Figure II.1.
Program Setting and Curricula, by Year of Program Participation
  Year of Participation
Program and Setting First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year
My Choice, My Future!
Powhatan, VA
(Classroom-based)
Reasonable Reasons to Wait
8th Grade
The Art of Loving Well
9th Grade
Wait TrainingTM
10th Grade
 
ReCapturing the Vision
Miami, FL
(Classroom-based)
ReCapturing the Vision & Vessels of Honor
6th-8th Grades
     
FUPTP
Milwaukee, WI
(After-school program)
A Life Options Model Curriculum for Youth
3rd-8th
Grades
4th-8th
Grades
5th-8th
Grades
6th-8th
Grades
Teens in Control
Clarksdale, MS
(Classroom-based)
Postponing Sexual Involvement
5th Grade
Sex Can Wait
6th Grade
   
Note: Appendix B provides additional detail on each of these curricula.

My Choice, My Future! used a different curriculum for each of the three years that youth were enrolled in the program. The eighth grade curriculum, Reasonable Reasons to Wait: The Keys to Character, focused on character development, reasons to wait to engage in sex, peer influence, dating, avoiding STDs, relationship skills, and the benefits and ingredients of a strong marriage (Duran 1997). The ninth grade curriculum, the Art of Loving Well: A Character Education Curriculum for Today's Teenagers, featured short stories, poetry, classic fairy tales, and myths that taught about healthy and loving relationships (Boston University 1993). During the final year of the program, tenth graders received the WAIT Training curriculum, which focused on relationship skills and risk avoidance. The tenth grade program also featured slide show materials from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH), which provided information on STDs and instructed students that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid contracting them.

ReCapturing the Vision used two curricula  ReCapturing the Vision and Vessels of Honor  during the one year program. The ReCapturing the Vision curriculum centered on identifying personal strengths and resources, developing strategies for fulfilling personal and career goals, and building critical skills that would help youth achieve positive goals and resist negative influences (Del Rosario 2003). The complementary Vessels of Honor curriculum included six key areas of focus: (1) honorable behavior, (2) effective communication for resisting pressure to engage in sex and other high-risk behaviors, (3) development of good relationships and satisfying social needs and emotional feelings through friendships rather than sex, (4) physical development and its implications for changing pressures, (5) sexual abuse and date rape and how to avoid both, and (6) strategies for choosing a mate and the benefits of a committed marital relationship (Del Rosario 1999). In addition to the class-based lessons and activities, the ReCapturing the Vision program provided a number of complementary services, including home visits by social workers, referrals to local services, after-school tutoring, community service projects, cultural events, a family retreat, an annual Teen Abstinence Rally, and an annual Teen Talk Symposium with celebrity panelists.

FUPTP's abstinence curriculum, A Life Options Model Curriculum for Youth, was delivered as a key component of its after-school activities. This curriculum covered 10 topic areas, nearly all of which have abstinence as a central focus: (1) group-building, (2) self-esteem, (3) values and goal-setting, (4) decision-making skills, (5) risk-taking behavior, (6) communication skills, (7) relationships and sexuality, (8) adolescent development and anatomy, (9) sexually transmitted diseases, and (10) social skills (Rosalie Manor, undated). The unit on relationships and sexuality addressed marriage in addition to abstinence; however, because of the young age of many FUPTP participants, marriage received relatively less attention. In addition to the in-school services, youth and parents in FUPTP could participate in other programming that Rosalie Manor made available; these included periodic parent workshops, a Saturday teen mentoring program, and a seven-week summer program with teen mentors.

Teens in Control used a different curriculum for each of the two years that youth participated in the program. In fifth grade, program group youth received the Postponing Sexual Involvement curriculum (Howard and Mitchell 1990), which was designed to increase the awareness of the risks and pressures associated with early sexual involvement and to develop skills that could help youth remain abstinent. The five topic areas covered in this curriculum focused on the risks of early sexual involvement and the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage, social and peer pressures to have sex, and the development of specific skills for resisting peer pressure using extensive practice sessions and reinforcement. The sixth graders in the program received the Sex Can Wait curriculum, which covered several key areas: self-concept and self-esteem; the psychological and physical changes during puberty; values; communication skills; information on the risks of STDs; skills for resisting social and peer pressures; and the formulation of career goals, planning how to achieve them, and how sexual abstinence is important for achieving these personal goals.

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