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Abstinence-Only Without Fear

A Step in the Right Direction: Medically Accurate Abstinence-Only Programs without Fear and Shame

SIECUS believes in teaching abstinence. Our Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten- 12th Grade states that one of the four primary goals of sexuality education is to “help young people exercise responsibility regarding sexual relationships, including abstinence [and] how to resist pressures to become prematurely involved in sexual intercourse.” Abstinence, however, is just one of 39 sexual health topics included in the Guidelines. SIECUS believes that programs that teach only abstinence are at best insufficient. 
Moreover, SIECUS believes that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, such as those eligible for federal funding, are problematic for a number of reasons. These programs not only ignore many important topics but also frequently rely on fear and shame, contain inaccurate information, and promote biases and stereotypes about gender, family structure, and sexual orientation. We believe these programs have no place in our schools.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, states or school boards still insist on teaching abstinence-only programs that exclude information about contraception and condoms. SIECUS often receives requests from advocates and educators in these communities who are fed up with fear-based abstinence programming and want another option. Listed below are seven abstinence-only programs that do not include messages of fear and shame in hopes that educators, advocates, and community members will be able to suggest them as stepping stones toward comprehensive sexuality education. 
Health Smart Middle School: Abstinence & Puberty
Health Smart High School: Abstinence & Sexual Health
ETR Associates
These programs for middle school and high school students are part of a seven-subject set of health education curricula.  The Abstinence subject set includes a teacher’s guide, student workbook, Health Facts books, and an optional assessment tool.  The middle school program discusses puberty, reproductive anatomy, and healthy relationships as well as abstinence. The high school program also includes information on the reproductive system, the media, and peer pressure. This program addresses sexual health but does not cover contraception or safer sex. 
2004; $39.95; ETR Associates, 4 Carbonero Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066-4200; Phone: 800/321-4407; Fax: 800/435-8433; Website:
Healthy Sexuality: An Abstinence-Based Curriculum for Middle Schools
Louise Miller and Kay Nation
This curriculum, which focuses on abstinence, includes activities on sexual terminology and puberty, defining and maintaining healthy sexuality, resisting peer pressure, and finding and using support.  It consists of 11 sequential lessons aimed toward grades 6–8 in middle/junior high schools. The complete program includes a teacher manual, student worksheets (available in Spanish), video, and poster set. An optional condom lesson is also included. 
Healthy Sexuality uses small and large-group activities, role-playing, brainstorming and cooperative-learning techniques in order to “empower students to take personal responsibility for their sexuality.” The program focuses on five main components that spell POWER: 1) “Protect myself and other” which discusses the risks of sexual activity; 2) “Own my rights and responsibilities,” or the right to say no; 3) “Wait” 4) “Express myself clearly” and 5) “Respect myself and others,” referring to communicating in a “considerate way.”
2002; $85 manual, $180 kit; Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education, 7525 West 10th Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214; Phone: 303/239-6494; Fax: 303/239-8428; Website:
Making a Difference! An Abstinence-Based Approach to HIV/STD and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Loretta Sweet Jemmott, John Jemmott III, and Konstance McCaffree
Using a cognitive-behavioral approach to motivate sexual behavioral change, the Making a Difference! curriculum focuses on building confidence, positive attitudes, and negotiation skills for adolescents to reduce their risk of STDs, HIV and unintended pregnancy by abstaining from sex. The program is geared toward middle school students ages 11–13 and community-based education programs that serve these young people. 
Making a Difference! has eight modules that fall into four main categories:
1) understanding one’s goals and dreams in relation to sexuality; 2) the causes, transmission and prevention of HIV, STDs and unintended pregnancy; 3) personal and social beliefs about abstinence, HIV, STDs and pregnancy; and 4) pressures, confidence and negotiation skills to abstain from sex. The basic package includes the facilitator’s manual, activity sets, and video clips; the full curriculum package also includes two videos. 
This program does not address safe sex practices and suggests that teachers only allow discussions of condoms if students ask about them.  However, the program emphasizes that facilitators “should not denigrate condoms, speak of them only in terms of failure rates, or exaggerate condom failure.”  Making Proud Choices is the more comprehensive version of this curriculum.
2005; Entire Package $300, Basic Package $145; Select Media, Inc., P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926; Phone: 845/774-7335; Website:
Making Sense of Abstinence
Bill Taverner and Sue Montfort
Designed as a supplement to a more comprehensive sexuality education curriculum, this manual includes 16 lessons about abstinence for use with high school-aged students.  The lessons focus on providing information, exploring attitudes and personal values, practicing decision-making skills and teaching communication and methods of abstaining beyond “just say no.”
2004; $25; Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, 196 Speedwell Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960; Phone: 973/539-9580; Fax: 973/539-3828; Website:
Making Smart Choices About Sex
Eva Goldfarb and Elizabeth Schroeder
Making Smart Choices About Sex is a part of the “Not Me, Not Now” teen pregnancy prevention campaign. The three lessons in this teaching manual, which is meant to supplement a more comprehensive sexuality education curriculum, are designed to encourage middle school students (grades 6–8) to postpone sexual intercourse.  The kit includes an interactive CD-ROM with games and teacher resources.
2004; $299; Metrix Marketing Inc., 40 Wildbriar Road, Rochester, NY 14623; Phone: 585/334-0890; Website:
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
SMART Moves education program, or Skills Master And Resistance Training, is designed to promote adolescent abstinence from sexual activity and substance abuse. The program utilizes a team approach to sexuality education, including SMART Moves staff, parents, community members, and peers, to help lead discussions and activities around strengthening abstaining skills. The program uses discussion, role-playing, resistance/refusal practice, and analysis of media influence and peer pressure in order to help participants to develop the assertiveness and confidence they need to abstain from sex.
SMART Moves is geared toward children ages 6–15. Specifically, the program includes: Smart Kids to help children ages 6–9 develop self awareness, decision making, and interpersonal skills; Start Smart to help preteens identify and resist peer, social, and media pressures to use drugs and become sexually involved; Stay Smart to help teenagers develop social, resistance, assertiveness, problem-solving, and decision-making skills; and Smart Parents to augment the sessions and teach parents about adolescent drug use and sexuality.
Call the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for pricing; 1275 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309; Phone: 404/487-5700; Website:
Will Power/Won’t Power, Second Edition: A Sexuality Education Program for Girls Ages 12–14
Girls Incorporated
This is a component of Girls Incorporated’s Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program. Will Power/Won’t Power follows the Girls Incorporated theme of supporting strong, smart, bold girls by focusing on building assertiveness, refusal skills, and knowledge of relationships, hygiene, sexuality, and sexual health. 
The program consists of 10 sessions designed to help girls learn how to say no to intercourse by recognizing, exploring, and practicing attitudes and skills that can help them deal with health and sexuality issues.  Topics include reproductive health and sexuality, assertiveness, identifying and resisting sexual pressures, values, abstinence, and STD prevention. The basic package includes step-by-step planning notes, procedure guidelines, discussion points, handouts and activity suggestions. 
2001; available to affiliated organizations and to licensees; non-member organizations should call for more information; Girls Incorporated National Resource Center, 441 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202-3287; Phone: 800/374-4475; Fax: 317/634-3024; Website:


National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education