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Adolescence. 1991 Fall;26(103):631-41.

The effects of three abstinence sex education programs on student attitudes toward sexual activity.

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Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602.


The effects of three abstinence sex education programs on student attitudes toward sexual activity were studied. The programs were administered to 7th- and 10th-grade students in three school districts in the State of Utah. All students were administered a pre- and posttest survey to determine attitude change. The independent variables were program, grade level, gender, and pre/posttest. The dependent variable was the combined and averaged response to 12 questions taken from the survey. There was a four-way interaction between the independent variables. The Sex Respect program produced the most positive attitude change.


Abstinence programs in 14 Utah junior and high schools were evaluated during the 1988-89 school year. The 3 programs under review were the Sex Respect Program and the Teen Aid Program in suburban districts and the Values and Choices Program in a rural area. The population represented the sociodemographic and economic structure of Utah. It was predicted that there would be a positive change between pre- and posttest scores and an increase in abstinence values, and that older students would be more resistant to change. A 105-item instrument was developed by the Institute for Research and Evaluation. The questions used pertaining to attitudes toward premarital sex are provided. A single-scale score was derived from the 13 items for the dependent variable. Independent variables were program, grade level, gender, and test. A factor analysis was performed on the measure of attitudes toward premarital sex and only 1 item had a reliability correlation lower than .66; it was discarded. The remaining items were reanalyzed and yielded a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .938 for raw variables. In the 4-way analysis of variance with the 12-item averaged scale score, test, program, and grade level, all effects were significant and interactive. The pattern of change from pre- to posttest varied with gender, grade level, and program. The amount of attitude change between males and females was similar, but females scored higher in all 3 programs on the pre- and posttest and were more positive about abstinence. Younger students were similar to older students except for the Teen Aid Program which showed an increase from pre- to post test. More change occurred in the Sex Respect Program and the least in the Values and Choices Program. Junior high students did not increase the pre- and posttest scores in the Teen Aid Program. The Sex Respect Program may have contributed to more change because it used the student's vernacular and had better visual aids. The 1st hypothesis was substantiated; the 2nd, on older student's resistance to change, was not supported. In fact the Teen Aid Program was more effective for high school students. In fact the Teen Aid Program was more effective for high school students. Attitude toward sexual behavior was correlated with actual sexual behavior as indicated with the Pearson coefficient of -.548. This association needs to be explored further to ascertain if the changed attitudes will indeed change behavior.

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