Middle school and adolescent populations demonstrate high rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, with young people in inner cities in the United States especially vulnerable. Teen births remain high, and youth are affected physically, mentally, socially, and economically.METHODS.
The Sex After Marriage primary prevention program, a federally funded, community-based abstinence education (CBAE) initiative, was implemented for 3 years in Philadelphia neighborhoods with vulnerable youth 12 to 18 years of age, supporting adults, healthcare professionals, and the general public. The three-tiered program offered a middle school curriculum, Sex Can Wait, at 16 different sites. The CBAE program delivered by the university's nursing center attempted to support vulnerable youths' decisions to postpone sexual activity by matching the interests of young people through an established curriculum, by holding workshops for supporting adults, and by creating a multimedia approach to supplement abstinence education initiatives including public service announcements and a website. Youth and college ambassadors and community colleagues were trained in the curriculum with a focus on healthy lifestyles. Youth and parents in experimental and control groups completed self-report surveys before and after program implementation.FINDINGS.
The project achieved most of its objectives on program evaluation. Youth (n = 1,428) 12 to 18 years of age received services, with most completing ≥75% of the program. Parents (n = 338) and other participating adults (n = 486) also received education or services.CONCLUSIONS.
The need for risk reduction programs persists for youth in light of pregnancy, birth, and sexually transmitted disease statistics.