The proposed correlation study would examine the relationship between school based sex education and the rate of teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates in the United States exceed one million each year, generating the top pregnancy rates of any Western developed country (Mitchell-DiCenso, 1997). This study used a group of 250 students who are enrolled in 7th and 8th grade schools with a school based sex education program and 250 students who are enrolled in schools without sex education programs. The results of this study are expected to show that students who were exposed to school based sex education have a lower rate of teen pregnancies than students who were not exposed to school based sex education. Educating teens on the uses of contraception could significantly lower the number of teen pregnancies in the United States each year.
Effects of School Based Sex Education and the Rate of Teen Pregnancy Teen pregnancy rates in the United States exceed one million each year, generating the top pregnancy rates of any Western developed country (Mitchell-DiCenso, 1997). The staggering rate of pregnancy among American teenagers clearly demonstrates that there is a significant need to educate teens on the consequences of their sexual activity. According to Mitchell-Dicenso (1997), the rate at which teens are becoming sexuality active continues to rise, and as a consequence of improper contraceptive use, pregnancy rates are also increasing causing health and economic concerns among this group. A study by Bennett and Nassim (2005) shows that the birthrate of unmarried American woman giving birth between the ages 15-19 has quadrupled from 1960 to 1992. Thomas and Dimitrov (2007) project that fewer than 25% of American teenagers under the age of 15 have engaged in sexual activity; therefore if teenagers can be reached before the age of 15 and are educated on the risks of sexual activity we may be able to change their attitudes towards sexual behaviors.
It is predicted that 1.65 million pregnancies are avoided in the US each year through the proper use of contraception. Bennett (2005) found that 75% of teenagers engaging in intercourse for the first time will use some method of contraception, and that of teenagers using contraception, only 30% will use it regularly. Research by Mauldon (1996) shows that a teenage woman is more likely to use contraception when engaging in sexual activity if she has been introduced to a contraceptive education program. Teenagers are also one-third more inclined to use condoms when taught about birth control. Sex education laws are only present in 38 states. The states that do not have any laws in regards to sex education only have policies that schools can follow if they choose (Stanger-Hall & Hall, 2011). It is important to provide information to all 50 states showing that school based sex education programs do influence teenagers choices when it comes to sexual behaviors, so that all 50 states can implement sex education laws. Mitchell-DiCenso (1997) found that the best method to prevent teenage pregnancy was exposure to school based sex education programs.
The hypothesis that will be investigated is whether school based sex education programs have an effect on the pregnancy rate among teens. The results of this study should provide additional data that supports the need for continued school based sex education by showing lower rates of pregnancy among educated teens. Participates would be selected from middle schools in an area with a high rate of teen pregnancy, a group of 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in 7th and 8th grade schools with a school based sex education program and 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in schools without sex education programs. The students receiving sex education would be required to participate in lectures, literature readings that contain information on sexual behaviors, learn about contraception and its proper use, and participate in life-like childcare experiments. The effectiveness of the program will be measured by administering a onetime questionnaire to participants their senior year in high school, to see if there is any difference in the rate of pregnancies between the two groups. Method
A group of 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in 7th and 8th grade schools with a school based sex education program and 250 students (125 female and 125 male) who are enrolled in schools without sex education programs. Reaching students between the ages of 12-14 can improve the chances of changing their about sexual behavior beliefs (Thomas, 2007). Both groups of students will be of mixed ethnicity’s and will come from similar but varying socioeconomic backgrounds so that both schools are even in background variables. Students who did not receive parental consent to participate in sex education would be excluded from the study as it is against the law to participate without consent. Students that plan on moving out of the area in the next six months would also be excluded due to the fact that they would not be able to be followed for the length of the study. Materials
Data would be collected using a onetime questionnaire. A questionnaire is the best method for collecting data for this study because can collect a large amount of data in a short period of time. Questionnaires have a higher response rating than mailed surveys (Trochim, 2008). Data would be collected by giving participants a questionnaire once during their senior year in high school, asking students if they have been pregnant and if so how many times. Design
The students receiving sex education would be required to participate in lectures, literature readings that contain information on sexual behaviors, learn about contraception and its proper use, and participate in life-like childcare experiments. The effectiveness of the program will be measured by giving participants a onetime questionnaire their senior year of high school. To test my hypothesis, that students who participate in school based sex education programs have a lower rate of teen pregnancy, I would collect data from both the 250 students that participated in sex education, and also 250 students that did not. In order to confirm or disconfirm my hypothesis the study would need to show that the rate of pregnancy among the students who received sex education was equal to or lower than the students without sex education. Effects to the study can be caused by students who move out of the area or drop out of high school before the questionnaire is administered. Results
The results of this study are expected to show that students who were exposed to school based sex education have a lower rate of teen pregnancies than students who were not exposed to school based sex education. The results of the ANOVA are expected to show that the rate of teen pregnancy among students who received school based sex education is significantly less than the students who did not. These finding will support my hypothesis that students exposure to school based sex education programs will decrease the number of teen pregnancies. Students not exposed to school based sex education programs will see a significantly higher pregnancy rate than the other group. Discussion
The hypothesis that students who were exposed to school based sex education have a lower rate of teen pregnancies than students who were not exposed to school based sex education was supported. The results of the ANOVA confirmed that there was a significant difference in the rate of teen pregnancy between students who received school based sex education and students who did not. The use of a onetime questionnaire allows researchers to compare the rates of teen pregnancy between the two groups of students, those who received school based sex education and those who did not. Focusing the design on 7th and 8th grades students whose ages range from 12-14 will be an enhancement over past research because it will offer evidence that the younger you reach teens with sex education the greater the chance that you will change their beliefs on sexual behavior.
A limitation of the study is that not all of the 500 students of participated in the research study could be contacted to participated in the onetime questionnaire. The results from this study can be used to educate teens at a younger age to aid in reducing the rates on unplanned teen pregnancies in the United States. This study has expanded on past research such as abstinence only research (Bennett, 2005) by educating students on contraception and its proper uses. Future research might compare different age groups to find the population that would benefit the most from school based sex education. Future research should also look at the difference in pregnancy rates between abstinence only sex education programs and traditional sex education programs. Study’s in the future should look at the rates of teen pregnancies among teenagers of specific ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Bennett, S.E. & Nassim, A.P. (2005). School-Based Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Programs: A Systematic Review of Randomized Control Trials. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36(1), 72-81. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2003.11.097 Mauldon, Jane & Luker, Kristin. (1996). The Effects of Contraception Education on Method Use as First Intercourse. Family Planning Perspectives, 28(1), 19-24. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/ehost/detail?vid=10&hid=18&sid=2916097e-7ca6-437f-a145-b45fcee1773b%40sessionmgr14&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=9603200741 Mitchell-DiCenso, A., Thomas, H.B., Devlin, C.M., Goldsmith, C.H., Willan, A., Singer, J.,…Hewson, S. (1997). Evaluation of an Educational Program to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 300-312. doi:10.1177/109019819702400304 Somers, C.L., Johnson, S.A., and Sawilowsky, S.S. (2002). A Measure for Evaluting the Effectiveness of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs. Psychology in Schools, 39(3), 337-342. doi:10.1002/pits.10023 Stanger-Hall, K.F. & Hall, D.W. (2011). Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the US. PLoS ONE, 6(10), 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024658 Thomas, C.L,& Dimitrov, D.M. (2007). Effects of a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program on Teens’ Attitudes Towards Sexuality: A latent Trait Modeling Approach. Developmental Psychology, 43(1), 173-185. doi:10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.52