203569 African American young women's transition to college: A qualitative investigation of the role of abstinence as young women navigate their first year of college

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tracey Y. Lewis-Elligan, PhD , Department of Sociology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Tori Tyler, MA , Demoiselle 2 Femme, Chicago, IL
Sherida Morrison, MA , Demoiselle 2 Femme, Chicago, IL
Harry Piotrowski, MS , ITMESA (Inquiry Through Measurement Evaluation Statistical Analysis), Oak Park, IL
Traditionally, abstinence only programs have been critiqued as offering a uni-dimensional perspective focused primarily on the negative risks associated with sexual activity and a “just say no” strategy for youth not to engage in premarital sexual activity. In this paper, we depart from this perspective by describing research findings gleaned from an evaluation of a holistic youth program which integrates abstinence education. Moreover, findings from this research support evidence that abstinence is not the only theme emphasized in a program rooted in an abstinence only framework. Relying on an ecological and social support approach, we explore the multiple contexts in which young women live and the role that a teen empowerment program plays in supporting young women who choose abstinence as they transition into and complete their first year of college. This paper explores four broad questions: 1) What individual and social conditions are necessary in supporting young women who choose abstinence as a strategy to promote a healthy lifestyle? 2) What role does a teen empowerment program play in supporting abstinence? 3) What are the barriers and facilitators to young women's abstinence? 4) What are young women's perceptions of the risks associated with abstinence and sexual activity? Eleven girls were purposively sampled from a teen empowerment program and followed over a year. The findings from this research are based on focus groups and in-depth interviews. Implications from this research demonstrate the effectiveness of a teen empowerment program and it offers a multi-dimensional conceptual model of abstinence education.

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe the individual and social contexts which support first year college women who choose abstinence as a strategy for a healthy lifestyle 2)Explain the barriers and facilitators of a teen empowerment program in supporting abstinence and a healthy lifestyle among first year college women.3) Formulate a conceptual model of abstinence education.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ph.D. in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University. I work as a researcher and qualitative evaluator on a grant funded by Health and Human Services Adolescent Family Life Demonstration Project. I teach classes on adolescent health and have published a couple articles on infant, youth and families.
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.