A review of 21 curricula for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs

J Sch Health. 2005 Mar;75(3):90-8.


The authors reviewed the content, methods, and overall quality of 21 curricula used in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Only materials designed for use in middle school grades (fifth to eighth) or with middle school-aged audiences (9-13 years of age), which presented the abstinence message in at least 40% of their content, were included. A rating instrument adapted from 2 sets of education guidelines structured the assessment of each curriculum. Four experienced teachers rated each curriculum. Curricula exhibited considerable variability in overall quality ratings. While on average, materials scored a 3.33 on a 1-to-5 scale (1 = Unacceptable; 5 = Excellent), 12 curricula received summative scores above the average, with 4 scoring 4.0 or higher. Eight curricula, however, received a below-average rating. While abstinence materials vary considerably in terms of overall quality, the values and world views underlying this sample of curricula were clear and consistent: those who develop abstinence education curricula value nonsexual antecedents of sexual behavior such as skills (goal setting, decision making, and assertiveness), ideals (fidelity, friendships), and psychological factors such as self-esteem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Curriculum*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control
  • Sex Education / organization & administration*
  • Sexual Abstinence*