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Evidence-Based Programs

All Evidence-Based Programs

Draw the Line/Respect the Line

Overview of the Curriculum

Draw the Line/Respect the Line (DTL/RTL) is a three-part program for students in grades 6, 7, and 8 designed to encourage youth to delay having sexual intercourse to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy. This abstinence-focused program also emphasizes developing young people’s interpersonal and intrapersonal skills so that they can set sexual limits. For sexually experienced teens, the program focuses on reducing sexual activity and encouraging condom use.

The curriculum consists of 19 lessons; each is intended to be implemented during a 45–50-minute standard classroom timeframe. There are five grade 6 lessons, seven grade 7 lessons, and seven grade 8 lessons.

Curriculum Lessons

6th Grade Curriculum

The grade 6 curriculum includes five lessons that primarily focus on setting limits and refusal skills in non-sexual situations. Homework activities encourage parent–child discussion of cultural and family values and pressure situations for young people.

Lesson 1: Introduces the concept of what it means to “draw the line.” Activities encourage youth to personalize this concept.

Lesson 2: Builds on Lesson 1. Participants identify strategies for communicating their message.

Lesson 3: Builds on the previous lessons by having participants engage in roleplaying and communicate where they draw the line.

Lesson 4: Highlights how to handle high-pressure situations and use effective communication skills.

Lesson 5: Discusses the role that friends play in respecting the line. Roleplay scenarios are used to practice showing respect for another person’s limits.

7th Grade Curriculum

The grade 7 curriculum includes seven lessons that shift the focus to sexual situations; students learn about the consequences associated with sexual intercourse and are encouraged to set limits regarding sex. Students are also taught intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to help them maintain limits and respect the limits of others. Homework activities encourage parent–child discussion of intentions to avoid having sex and getting out of risky situations.

Lesson 1: Is an overview of what students have already learned about drawing the line and what they will learn in the grade 7 program. Activities focus on what makes it difficult to draw the line when placed in high-pressure situations.

Lesson 2: Focuses on the consequences of having sex.

Lesson 3: Helps students identify ways to handle risky situations. Activities encourage students to become aware of situations that could lead to sex.

Lesson 4: Uses roleplaying exercises to focus on drawing the line in risky sexual situations.

Lesson 5: Provides information on STDs, their symptoms, and ways to avoid transmission.

Lesson 6: Addresses sexual pressure. Activities include a mock talk show and roleplaying to practice assisting friends in resisting sexual pressure.

Lesson 7: Uses activities to review key steps for drawing the line and respecting the line.

8th Grade Curriculum

The grade 8 curriculum includes seven lessons that develop students’ practical skills. In these lessons, students learn how to use condoms and practice refusal skills in dating contexts. Homework activities encourage parent–child discussion of HIV and its impact on those who are affected by HIV.

Lesson 1: Includes a true story about a young woman with HIV. Students read this story and then make personal promises about how they will draw the line to reduce their risk for HIV, other STDs, and unplanned pregnancy.

Lesson 2: Consists of the Draw the Line Challenge Game, which is designed to review and present important information about how to prevent HIV and other STDs.

Lesson 3: Discusses the challenges of sticking with personal limits.

Lesson 4: Allows students to practice upholding their limits using roleplaying exercises.

Lesson 5: Is devoted to a guest speaker who shares his or her experiences living with HIV/AIDS.

Lesson 6: Includes a student discussion of how to reduce the risk of HIV, STDs, and pregnancy and a teacher demonstration of how to properly use condoms.

Lesson 7: Closes out the program by asking students to identify things that can help them maintain their limits.

Unique Features of the Curriculum

  • The program was designed to be taught over multiple years (grades 6, 7, and 8) with comprehensive lessons that build on one another.
  • The trained educators who implement the program have “office hours” outside classroom time, during which students can meet with the educators individually or in small groups.
  • The 3-year curriculum includes sessions that discuss how to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as well as sexuality education.

Theoretical Framework

Research shows that curricula are most effective if they are based on a sound theoretical framework. DTL/RTL draws on two social science theories: Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and Social Inoculation Theory (SIT).

SCT views individual behavior change as a result of social processes—that is, behavior change is influenced by interactions with other people (particularly influential individuals) and one’s social environment. It is based on the premise that behavior change occurs through acquiring knowledge, changing outcome expectations, developing skills, building self-efficacy, and creating social supports for the desired behavior change.

In DTL/RTL, the tenets of SCT are apparent through homework activities that promote parent–child discussions, guest speakers (as influential individuals who share their experiences living with HIV), and roleplays and skills practice that help students prepare for familiar real-life situations.

According to SIT, social inoculation works much like medical inoculation. Just as exposure to a weakened form of a virus can strengthen the body’s resistance to a more virulent form, exposing someone to weakened counter-arguments triggers a process of counter-arguing that eventually helps one resist stronger, more persuasive arguments. To build motivation to resist, the person must first recognize his or her vulnerability to attack and then prepare defenses against future attack.

SIT is incorporated into activities throughout the DTL/RTL curriculum—activities that make youth aware of their vulnerability (e.g., discussions of the consequences of having sex or the difficulty of resisting high-pressure situations) and those that “inoculate” youth by giving them resistance strategies and opportunities to practice.

Ordering and Training Information

To learn more about Draw the Line, including ordering and training information visit:



DTL/RTL was evaluated in three school districts in urban northern California between 1997 and 1999.

Research Design

DTL/RTL was evaluated using an experimental random-assignment design. Nineteen public middle schools from three urban school districts in northern California were randomly assigned either to the DTL/RTL program or to the control group. The evaluation included 2,829 participants and control group members. The evaluation study was completed between spring 1997 and spring 1999. Students in 10 intervention schools received the DTL/RTL program, and students in 9 control group schools received their school’s regular HIV/sex education curriculum. Between 87 and 90 percent of students completed the follow-up questionnaires.

The evaluation included youth in grades 6, 7, and 8. Participants’ average age was 12 years. Program participants were 59 percent Hispanic, 17 percent White, 16 percent Asian, 5 percent African American, and 3 percent Other. Half of the participants were boys and half were girls. Five percent of program participants were sexually experienced before the intervention.


From grades 6 through 9, boys from the DTL/RTL schools were significantly less likely to report having initiated sexual activity than boys from the control schools, and the magnitude of this difference increased with time. The program had no impact on girls in this regard.

At every follow-up, boys from the DTL/RTL schools were significantly less likely to have engaged in sex during the past 12 months than boys from the control group schools. Furthermore, at the grade 8 follow-up, boys from the DTL/RTL schools reported having engaged in sex significantly less frequently and with fewer partners over the past year than boys from control group schools. The program had no impact on any of these outcomes for girls.

Both boys and girls from DTL/RTL schools had greater HIV and condom-related knowledge than control group students, and this difference remained significant through the grade 9 follow-up.

The program had no impact on condom use by students of either gender.

Research Study Citation

Coyle, K.K., Kirby, D.B., Marin, B.V., Gomez, C.A., & Gregorich, S.E. (2004). Draw the Line/Respect the Line: A randomized trial of a middle school intervention to reduce sexual risk behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 94(5), 843–851.

Draw the Line/Respect the Line Adaptation Kit

Under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), JBS Inc. subcontracted with ETR Associates to develop an adaptation kit for Draw the Line/Respect the Line. The DTR/RTL Adaptation Kit contains practical tools and resources to guide adolescent reproductive health practitioners in making effective adaptations and maintaining fidelity to the program's core components.

This adaptation kit provides clarity on how DTL/RTL was designed, its core components, and the types of adaptations that are considered safe and those that should be avoided. For other available adaptation kits, go to Making Adaptations.