202631 Where Do Adolescents Learn about Sex and Abstinence Topics?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deborah K. Walker, EdD , Domestic Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Lauren Olsho, PhD , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Jessica Cohen, MS MPH , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Gretchen Locke, MA , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
To learn about the public's views about abstinence, the Administration for Children and Families funded a survey to examine current attitudes of adolescents and their parents regarding abstinence knowledge and attitudes. Abt Associates conducted this public opinion survey of a nationally representative matched sample of 1000 adolescents (ages 12 to 18) and their parents in 2008. Almost all (94%) of adolescents reported they had learned about at least one of six topics in a class or program: how to behave on dates (39% had “learned about this topic”), how religious values relate to sexual intercourse (44%), how to have good relationships (62%), waiting to have sexual intercourse until marriage (71%), how babies are made, pregnancy or birth (83%), and how to resist pressures to have sexual intercourse (84%). Exposure to these topics varied by location of the class or program (e.g., school, place of worship, doctor's office, community organization or some other place.) Most messages were received by most adolescents in schools; the topic related to resisting pressures to have sex was most frequently learned in a place of worship. Parents favored many places for the receipt of the message that one should not have sex before marriage: school (83%), doctor's office or clinic (85%), place of worship (85%), community organization (71%), and internet (55%). Findings from multivariate analyses conducted using a conceptual model based on the literature imply that delivery of messages about sex and abstinence in a variety of settings increases the likelihood that adolescents hear the message.

Learning Objectives:
To describe where adolescents say they learn about sex and abstinence topics To discuss where parents say it is ok for their youth to learn about sex before marriage

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done a number of research studies on adolescent health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.