The impact of sex and relationship education programming with foster youth
Dockter, Taylor Paige Adams
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Teen pregnancy is associated with increased risk of school dropout, employment challenges and long-term poverty; these risks are exacerbated for foster youth who are at elevated risk for teen pregnancy. Sex education has been found to reduce risky sexual behavior, although research on sexual education with foster youth is limited. This study examines variations in the experiences and outcomes of non-foster youth versus foster youth who participated in a federally funded teen pregnancy prevention program providing both relationship and sex education. As anticipated, foster youth entered programming with elevated rates of risky sexual behavior. However, contraception use intentions contradicted past literature. A positive but unexpected finding was that both groups reported positive program experiences and safer sexual behavior intentions post-programming. This study provides preliminary evidence that both groups of youth may benefit from receiving both relationship and sex education programming. Implications for future research and programming are shared.