Research and Reports
Sex-education programs increase students' knowledge but do not substantially reduce unintended adolescent pregnancies unless they are combined with health-clinic programs, according to a study prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In this recent survey of nine sex-education programs in schools, family-planning clinics, and youth-service organizations across the country, researchers questioned student participants and their parents about their reactions to the programs and the effect the programs had on their lives.
The study--"Sexuality Education: An Evaluation of Programs and Their Effects"--was prepared by Douglas Kirby, formerly of Mathtech Inc., a research group situated in Washington, D.C., for the Center for Health Promotion and Education of the Centers for Disease Control.
According to the survey's findings, most participants and their parents said they thought the programs were "excellent," increased students' knowledge, and had a positive impact on the participants.
The survey also found that some of the more comprehensive programs served to "increase the clarity of participants' values," and some parent-child programs increased communication between the two.
But researchers concluded that most nonclinic programs had no statistically significant impact on participants' use of birth control or on their pregnancy or birth rates.
Students who participated in programs that included on-site health clinics, on the other hand, experienced significantly fewer pregnancies and births, according to the report. "After implementation of the program, fertility rates decline by about half," it states.
The clinic programs studied, according to the report, featured staff members who lectured in classrooms, counseled students in the clinic, conducted gynecological examinations for those students needing medical methods of contracep-tion, made referrals to hospital clinics for prescriptions, and performed follow-up checkups and counseling sessions with the students.
Copies of the report are available for $5.70 from Network Publications, P.O. Box 8506, Santa Cruz, Calif. 95061-8506.
High-school girls have higher career aspirations than their male peers but see greater barriers to achieving their goals, according to the preliminary results of a University of Minnesota youth poll to be released this winter.
Diane Hedin, associate professor with the university's center for youth development and research, polled 750 Minnesota 9th- through 12th-grade students on their career goals, plans, and expectations. She found that 63 percent of the girls said they would pursue professional work, compared with 39 percent of the boys.
However, girls saw more barriers to achieving their goals than their male counterparts did. Some 75 percent of the boys agreed with theel10lstatement "America is a land of unlimited opportunity," in contrast to 50 percent of the girls.
The study also found that two-thirds of both males and females accepted the assumptions of the "Cin-derella myth"--that most young women want to marry successful handsome men who will take care of them for the rest of their lives. About one-fifth of the respondents totally endorsed the concept, while another 50 percent "offered more qualified agreement, noting that there weren't enough princes to go around and it's a good, but not dependable idea, because death or divorce might happen," the report states.
Almost all of the respondents said girls are more protected and sheltered than boys, and half of the girls and two-thirds of the boys also felt females received preferential treatment in school. Both sexes agreed that the different treatment they thought girls received at home and school had a negative impact on girls and a positive impact on boys.
However, although the majority of those surveyed felt girls were less aggressive and more dependent than boys, some 70 percent of both sexes endorsed the "Supermom" model of women who successfully manage a career, family, and community projects.