Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact [PDF]
Name of Program: Washington State's Abstinence Education Projects, including Teen Aware and the Abstinence Education Program
Federal Funding Source: Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act (the state entitlement for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs established under "Welfare Reform" in 1996)
Funding Allocated: In federal fiscal year 2003, Washington received $739,012 in Title V, abstinence-only funding. The state provided a match of $200,000, bringing the total allocation to the state's abstinence-only programs in FY 2003 to $939,012.
Program Reach/Program Components: Washington's abstinence-only project includes the school-based program, Teen Aware, and the community-based initiative, the Abstinence Education Program.
- The Abstinence Education Program (AEP) includes educational and skill building activities, media campaigns, literacy training, social/recreational activities, and mentoring opportunities.
- Teen Aware focuses on educating students to generate peer-targeted media campaigns promoting sexual abstinence. Activities include producing TV public service announcements (PSAs), commercials, and videos as well as producing posters and banners, buttons, stickers, and T-shirts. During the 2001-02 and 2002-03 school years, 55 schools across the state received Teen Aware funding; 13 schools received the funding in both academic years.
Target Population: AEP participants' average age, 13; Teen Aware participants' average age, 14.6
Timing of Program/Evaluation: AEP: five years of program data, 1998-2003; Teen Aware, evaluation data from the 2002-2003 academic year
Evaluation Design: AEP: Most program sites used a pretest/posttest survey and comparison group; 963 youth in the treatment group and 469 in the comparison group completed both pre- and posttests.
Teen Aware: The evaluation design also included pretest/posttest surveys and a comparison group; 302 students completed a pretest and 232 completed a posttest. Researchers used covariate adjustment statistical models for analysis.
Findings: The evaluations of both community-based AEP and the school-based Teen Aware measured short-term changes in participants' attitudes towards sex and dating and their intentions to abstain.
AEP: Evaluation in seven sites across Washington State assessed changes in attitudes towards dating and sex. Evaluation found that the sites appeared to have a desired effect on participants' attitudes toward sex and dating. Each item on the scale was statistically significant at one or more of the AEP sites. Each of the four items and the total scale showed statistical significance. That is, AEP participants held attitudes more favorable towards abstinence, relative to those in the comparison groups from pre- to posttest. A site-by-site analysis of changes in intent to abstain indicated that none of the projects was able to show a statistically significant difference between comparison and treatment groups for all sexual intention questions, combined. However, when the results from all the AEP sites were combined, intent to abstain was significantly greater among AEP participants than among comparisons.
Teen Aware: Evaluation showed that Teen Aware program participants were more likely to hold attitudes favorable to abstinence relative to the comparison group from pre- to posttest. Teens in the program were more likely than comparisons to respond favoring abstinence on three of four questions related to intent. For two of the questions, the differences were statistically significant. The difference between the Teen Aware participants and comparison youth for the total score on intent to abstain was also statistically significant.
Significant Quote from Authors of the Evaluation Study:
- Two-thirds of the students reported liking Teen Aware. Reasons given were that the program was informative or increased their knowledge of the consequences of sex; many said it was fun… About one-third of the students reported that they did not like the program or that they had mixed feelings. Reasons for this included that they found the program boring, they did not learn new information, they did not like being forced to participate, or they found the program hypocritical. [p. 6]