Abstinence (Ab-sti-nence) is defined as a positive lifestyle for an adolescent that promotes self-control, character and a solid foundation for friendships and for committed love within the context of marriage. Abstinence is the commitment to not participate in sexual activity, which may include intercourse, genital contact, or other sexually arousing activities.*
Programs funded under the Abstinence Education Program must be implemented in accordance with the requirements of Section 510 of Title V of the Social Security Act. Under the Act, and in accordance with federal guidelines, programs must adhere to what are commonly referred to as the A through H guidelines. The Act defines the term “abstinence education” to mean an educational or motivational program which:
- has as
its exclusive purpose, teaching the
social, psychological and health gains
to be realized by abstaining from sexual
- teaches abstinence from sexual
activity outside marriage as the expected
for all school-age children;
that abstinence from sexual activity
is the only certain way
to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy,
diseases, and other associated
- teaches that a mutually
faithful monogamous relationship in
the context of marriage
is the expected standard of human
- teaches that
sexual activity outside of the context
to have harmful psychological
and physical effects;
that bearing children out-of-wedlock
is likely to
have harmful consequences
for the child, the child’s
parents, and society;
young people how to reject
drug use increases
vulnerability to sexual
- teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
Abstinence education addresses the attitudes and beliefs of teens along with the social pressures they face related to sexual activity outside of marriage. In addition, abstinence education enhances decision making and problem solving skills while building self confidence. A coordinated approach to reducing teen sexual activity reduces public costs and improves the future for our youth.
Between 1991 and 2002, the teen birth rate for girls aged 15-19 declined 34 percent in Florida. If the birth rate in Florida had not declined there would have been nearly 69,000 additional children born to teen mothers. Despite the impressive strides Florida has made in reducing the teen birth rate and the important contribution this progress has made to improve the number of children living in poverty and in single parent families, there is still much work to be done. Florida ranks 3rd among states in the number of births to teens.**
In Florida, the number of births to teens age 15 to 19 was 25,216 in 1998 and declined to 23,160 in 2002. This represents a decrease of 8%. The trend continued in 2003 when the number of births to teens age 15 to 19 was 22,768 which is a decline of nearly 2% for one year (Florida Vital Statistics, 2004.)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States today. More than 20 STDs have now been identified, and they affect more than 13 million men and women in this country each year. The annual comprehensive cost of treating STDs in the United States is estimated to be well in excess of $10 billion (National Institute of Health, 2005.) In Florida, from 1995 through 2004 for ages 15-19 there have been 55,646 cases of Gonorrhea reported and 125,252 cases of Chlamydia.
Public and private organizations currently operate community-based projects that are funded to provide services to youth between the ages of 9 to 18 years of age, parents and community members.
Over 350,000 youth have participated in abstinence-only education classes and activities by way of school-based and community-based programs, after-school programs and state and provider sponsored youth rallies, since inception of the program.
Since 2000 the Abstinence Education Program and providers have served 22,247 parents through health fairs, educational classes, and workshops across the state. Abstinence Education activities are interactive and focus on educating youth about the health and psychological risks involved in early sexual activity, enhancing self-esteem and building skills such as positive goal setting, decision-making, problem solving, negotiation and refusal techniques.
The Florida Abstinence Education Association (FAEA), formed in 2002, is a collaborative group made up of over 100 non-funded and state-funded community-based and faith-based organizations, businesses and other entities supportive of abstinence-only education. The organization, which meets on a quarterly basis, was formed to share information, build capacity, network and to explore other funding opportunities among its membership to enhance abstinence-only education in Florida.
The "It's Great to Wait" statewide media campaign is designed to generate awareness and motivate the community to reduce teen pregnancy. Components of the campaign include bilingual television and radio spots targeting adolescents, Latino teens, older teens and parents, and this newly-redesigned interactive educational web site for youth and adults.
The web site informs youth about the health risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and provides tips on how to abstain, testimonies from abstinent youth, educational games, tips for parents, and gives locations and contact information for Florida's funded programs.
The Abstinence Education program maintains a growing mailing list of over 5,000 individuals and organizations desiring information on abstinence-only education and funding opportunities. To join this list, please fill in the information on the "contact us" page of this website. Since inception the program has only been able to fund a small portion of the proposals submitted.
There were 2,962 youth and 698 parents and adults in attendance at the 2005 annual regional conferences. In 2004, the program began offering abstinence educator training workshops, six throughout the state, where adults learned how to tailor an abstinence curriculum to best meet youth and community needs, techniques on how to present abstinence education to youth and parents in their local communities, and the federal guidelines for abstinence education programs. As a part of the abstinence educator training workshops, the program offered vouchers allowing the participants to purchase a state approved curriculum of their choice.
Preliminary analysis of the before and after attitudinal measure conducted in 2002 through abstinence education providers indicates that programs are making a positive difference on adolescents' attitudes and beliefs about sexual activity. After participating in the abstinence program, a greater percentage (t=12.5, <. 001) of students responded positively to the statements, "I plan to wait until marriage to have sex." and "Having sex as a young person could mess up my future."
Plans are underway for a future statewide evaluation.
Abstinence education funds are awarded to local community-based and faith-based organizations, county health departments, schools and local government agencies through a statewide competitive procurement process. Organizations interested in receiving notification of upcoming funding cycles can have their name added to the mailing list maintained by Program by clicking on the link “Contact Us” and providing the requested information or by contacting the Abstinence Education Program Office at (850) 245-4466.
• Abstinence 101, 2005, National Abstinence Clearinghouse.
** National Campaign
to Prevent Pregnancy, 2005