Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Summary


Several potential mediators of teen sexual abstinence commonly addressed by Title V, Section 510 program curricula are found to have no association with sexual abstinence three to five years later.  Notable among these are self-concept, refusal skills, and communication with parents; perceptions of negative consequences from teen sex; and pledging to abstain from sex.  Two other potential mediators are found to be significantly associated with future sexual abstinence: youth support for abstinence and their friends support for abstinence.  Although the analysis cannot determine whether either of these associations is causal, findings suggest that promoting support for abstinence, both among youth and their friends, should be an important feature of future abstinence programs.

The programs evaluated in this report had at most a small impact on support for abstinence in the short term, and they had no impact on support for abstinence in the longer term.  However, levels of support among both program and control group youth did change significantly over time.  For example, at the end of their first school year in the study sample (the time of the first follow-up survey), most program group youth reported having a majority of friends supportive of abstinence.  But by the time of the final follow-up survey  when most program youth had entered middle to late adolescence and all youth had completed the programs  only a small fraction had maintained this high level of peer support.


[1] See Appendix Table E.1 for definitions of these measures.  Pledging to abstain is shown in Box C of the logic model (services received) because it is often a component of programs curricula; however, the act of pledging may act as a mediator of future behavior, making it relevant for this analysis.

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