SEXUAL RISK AVOIDANCE
Sexual Risk Avoidance?
Project BestLife curricula use the Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) approach to teaching social and sexual health. This model of education is medically accurate, science-based, and emphasizes a holistic approach to sex education.
As an SRA program, Project BestLife lessons utilize the primary prevention health model, which equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to delay their participation in risk behaviors such as sexual intercourse. Utilizing instruction, group activities, and strategies, students are taught how to think critically about the situations that they will encounter in the future and how to make choices that align with their values.
What about Comprehensive
The “comprehensive” sex education model, also known as Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR), focuses almost entirely on teaching students skills that can reduce the physical consequences of sexual intercourse. This includes but is not limited to, the use of contraceptives. While this approach can be effective for other risk behaviors, we do not believe this approach is the most healthy and holistic way to teach children and teens about sex.
SRR education models primarily target individuals who are already engaged in risky behavior and aim to guide these students toward continuing their behavior in a more healthy way. As a sex education method, this messaging may give students the impression that “everyone is doing it” when surveys have actually shown that to be false. In fact, the majority of teens (over 60%) are not having sex2 and most believe that waiting for sex is possible3.
The SRR message also implies that once teens become sexually active, it is not advantageous, or even possible, for them to discontinue sexual activity. Surveys have revealed that almost half (48%) of sexually experienced teens wish they had waited to have sex1. This highlights that sexually experienced teens are open to making a different choice in the future.
Does Sexual Risk Avoidance work?
There are multiple peer-reviewed studies of SRA programs that show significant behavior changes and positive outcomes for teens who participated in them. One such study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, now JAMA Pediatrics, conducted a randomized controlled trial of sixth and seventh-grade students in order to compare the effectiveness of various approaches to sex education4. The study found that students who received SRA education were 15% less likely to engage in sexual intercourse for the first time in the two years following their program than those who did not receive SRA education. Additionally, students who received SRA education were 8.4% less likely to continue engaging in sexual intercourse in the two years following their program than those who did not receive SRA education (Jemmott et al. 2010).
As a whole, studies analyzing SRA programs have shown that when compared to their peers, students in an SRA program are:
More likely to delay having sex for the first time.
More likely to decrease or discontinue their sexual activity.
Less likely to engage in other risky behaviors.
More likely to excel academically.
How can I learn
more about Sexual Risk Avoidance?
Ascend. (2017). Sexual Risk Avoidance Works. https://weascend.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/SRA-Works.pdf
National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Family Growth. (2017, June 23).Key Statistics from the National Survey of Family Growth - T Listing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics/t.htm#teenagers
Administration for Children & Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau. (2009, February 26). National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents: Attitudes and Opinions about Sex and Abstinence. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/archive/fysb/report/national-survey-adolescents-and-their-parents-attitudes-and-opinions-about-sex
Jemmott III, PhD, J. B., Jemmott, PhD, RN, L. S., Fong, PhD, G. T. (2010, February). Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 164(2), 152-159.