by Mary S. McLellan, MS, SRAS ~ Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist
Back in 1998, the research design for “Making A Difference!” was considered strong and still, those results from a single study showed that the program only delayed sex for 3 months, in a small sample of 11-13 year old African American urban students, who – had NOT had sex.
However, at the 6 and 12 month evaluation, there was no impact on sexual initiation, sex, condom use, or unprotected sex. NO IMPACT!
“The study found that three months after the program ended, adolescents participating in the intervention who were sexually inexperienced at baseline were significantly less likely to report having had sexual intercourse in the previous 3 months. The study did not find any statistically significant program impacts on rates of sexual intercourse for adolescents who were sexually experienced at baseline, or on frequency of sexual intercourse, condom use, or unprotected sexual intercourse for the full sample. The study found no statistically significant program impacts for the follow-ups conducted six and 12 months after the program ended.”
This 18 year old program had only been evaluated ONCE; there were no replication studies to show that the same thing could happen again. (This is shoddy research.) Why was it deemed an Evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and put on the US Health and Human Services’ and CDC’s list to push in public schools?
“Making A Difference!” has been promoted in public schools for eighteen years!
“Making A Difference!” has NEVER been officially evaluated in a school setting, but only in after-school and community settings (poor inner city minorities.) YET, it is widely used to teach all minors in school settings. Again, shoddy research and application!
“Making A Difference!” is touted as an “abstinence education program,” but uses the term “abstinence-approach” to fool school districts into thinking they have a proven effective abstinence education program.
An authentic Evidence-based Abstinence/Sexual Risk Avoidance Education program sets clear boundaries to avoid all sexual activity. Boundaries such as commitment, monogamy, and marriage. However, “Making A Difference!” does not set boundaries for how long the minor child is to delay sex. They teach…When you feel ready for sex. That could be today – right after school, this weekend, prom night, etc.
“”Making A Difference!” is an Abstinence Approach to Prevention of STDs, HIV and Teen Pregnancy is an eight module curriculum that provides young adolescents with the knowledge, confidence, and skills necessary to reduce their risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV, and pregnancy by abstaining from sex. The curriculum is designed for middle school youth and is delivered by trained facilitators.”
“Making A Difference” is written by the Jemmotts, the same authors who wrote “Making Proud Choices!” and “Be Proud! Be Responsible.” They used a Sexual Risk Reduction approach, rather than a Sexual Risk Avoidance approach. Several of the Jemmott sex programs are advocated by Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, and other Sexual Rights Groups.
Sexual Risk Reduction means that as long as “protection” is used (condoms, birth control, alternative sex) then sex can be safe. Really? Is this what minors, who legally cannot consent to sex, need to hear? How has that been working for us over the past 20 years?