Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact [PDF]
Name of Program: Florida Abstinence-Only Program
Federal Funding Source: Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act (entitlement for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs established under "Welfare Reform" in 1996)
Funds Allocated: Florida received $2.2 million in federal Title V funding for federal fiscal year 2003. The state did not match this grant, requiring sub-grantees to provide matching funds. Still, Florida allocated a separate $3.5 million in state funds to support abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in FY 2003, bringing the total allocation of public funds to $5.7 million.
Program Reach/Program Components: Florida's abstinence-only-until-marriage program, funded through Title V and state funds, includes efforts of 22 sub-grantees across the state. Program components vary by site but all rely on abstinence-only curricula, such as Managing Pressures Before Marriage, ENABL, WAIT Training, Sex Can Wait, Choosing the Best Life, FACTS, Go APE, Reasonable Reasons to Wait, ABS Works, SHARE, Capturing the Vision, Vessels of Honor, Smart Moves, Responsible Social Values, AC Green's The Game Plan, or Teen Outreach Program.
Target Population: Varies by provider, but ages range from seven to 25; the behavior survey was conducted with youth ages 11 to 15.
Timing of Program/Evaluation: Spring 2003
Evaluation Design: Florida State University's School of Social Work conducted the Florida Abstinence Evaluation study. The study includes participant surveys measuring changes in attitudes from pre- to posttest and one behavioral survey of a small number of students. Responses on pre- and posttest attitudes surveys were collected using: a) an 11-item survey instrument in January 2002 (students n=17,776; ages seven to 19; mean age 13.7); July 2002 (n=6,461; ages seven to 20; mean age 13); January 2003 (n=13,044; ages 10 to 19; average age 13); and undated (n=12,117; ages eight to 22; average age 13.1); or b) a 27-item survey in July 2002 (n=1,634; ages 13 to 20; average age 15.5) and January 2003 (n=4,281; ages 10 to 25; average age 15). In all these attitude surveys, mean scores were compared from pre- to posttest. A behavior survey was conducted between February and May 2003 (n=53 students; ages 11 to 15; average age 13). No comparison group was used for any survey.
Findings: Attitudinal Survey: Comparisons of mean scores between pre- and posttest surveys show slight changes in a desired direction. Evaluators did not perform analysis to determine the statistical significance of any change. Since the amount of change in attitudes on many of these items is so small, success cannot be claimed in these areas. For example, from the 11-item survey analysis of July 2002, the statement "I plan to wait until marriage to have sex" changed in the desired direction (-0.3716 from 2.35 to 1.98, where 2 indicates "somewhat believe"); the same statement on the 2003 11-item survey changed in a desired direction (-0.3527 from 2.38 to 2.03, where 2 indicates "agree").11 Other examples from the July 2002, 11-item survey included:
- "I believe having sex as a young person could mess up my future" (shifted -0.3162 from 1.88 to 1.57, with 1 indicating "strongly believe");
- "Sex at any age is a natural part of life" (shifting 0.2158 from 3.28 to 3.50 with 4 indicating "somewhat do not believe" and 3 indicating "unsure");
- "I can refuse to have sex with someone" (yielding only a -0.1307 change from 1.48 to 1.35 with 1 indicating "strongly believe");
- "There are many different ways to show that you care about a boyfriend or girlfriend without sex" (yielding only a -0.1141 change from 1.44 to 1.33 with 1 indicating "strongly believe"); and
- "Having a baby (or fathering a baby) at my age can mess up my chances of being able to do things in the future, like going to the prom, school activities, or college like other teens" (yielding only a -0.0652 change in mean response from 1.37 to 1.30).
Although most of these examples are drawn from only one survey, the other attitude surveys found similar, small changes, usually in the desired direction.
Behavioral Survey: Although results reflected little change from pre- to post test, a majority of those surveyed (n=53) agreed with the statement "I plan to wait until marriage to have sex" and disagreed that "its okay for teens to have sex." A review of the remaining attitudinal items revealed somewhat ambiguous attitudes regarding premarital abstinence. At the same time, participants reported increases in seven sexual behaviors from pre- to posttest, including an increase in the number reporting that they had sex.