- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

At least eight programs have shown "strong evidence of success" in reducing teen pregnancies and birth rates, say researchers associated with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

"This is good news. It gives us multiple approaches to reducing teen pregnancy and our hope is that this information will help communities implement programs" that will bring results, research scientist Douglas Kirby said at a press conference yesterday to introduce the report "Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy."

"There´s still no magic bullet to reducing teen pregnancy," said Sarah Brown, director of the national campaign. "There are, however, some strong bullets that show really great promise."

Mr. Kirby, of ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, Calif., and his task force reviewed some 250 studies on programs aimed at postponing or reducing sexual activity, preventing pregnancy and/or increasing contraception use among middle-school and high-school students. Positive outcomes had to be sustained for "a sufficient length of time," preferably at least 12 months.

Five of the successful programs were in-class comprehensive sex education or HIV/AIDS programs, said Mr. Kirby, who noted that ETR Associates developed two of these programs.

Two other successful programs were community service programs that involved youths in after-school projects, with mentors and small group activities. These programs were shown to reduce teen pregnancy rates while the youths were involved with them.

The eighth and most costly program was a New York-based sex education-plus-youth-development one called the Children´s Aid Society-Carrera program.

The New York program was effective in its ability to help girls wait longer to have sex and use contraceptives once they became sexually active, said the report.

The program did not, however, reduce sexual risk taking among boys.

No abstinence-only programs were found to be successful, but only three studies of abstinence-only programs met the criteria for the review, Mr. Kirby said.

"The jury is still out" on the effectiveness of such programs, he said, and in two years there should be important findings from a federally sponsored study of the $50 million-a-year federal Title V abstinence-education grant program.

In addition to the Children´s Aid Society program, the successful programs were:

• In the sex education category: Reducing the Risk; Safer Choices; Becoming a Responsible Teen: An HIV Risk Reduction Intervention for African-American Adolescents; Making a Difference: An Abstinence Approach to STD, Teen Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS Prevention; and Making a Difference: A Safer Sex Approach to STD, Teen Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS Prevention. (Reducing the Risk and Safer Choices are products of ETR Associates.)

• In the community service category: Teen Outreach Program and Reach for Health Community Youth Service Learning.

Members of Mr. Kirby´s task force included Christine Bachrach of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Dr. Robert W. Blum and Michael Resnick, both of the University of Minnesota; Jacqueline E. Darroch of the Alan Guttmacher Institute; Rebecca Maynard of the University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health; Dr. Felicia H. Stewart of the University of California at San Francisco and Stan Weed of the Institute for Research & Evaluation.

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