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Evidence-Based Programs

All Evidence-Based Programs

Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education

Overview of the Intervention

Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education is a classroom-based curriculum that teaches students the benefits of remaining abstinent until marriage and the risks associated with premarital sexual activity. It aims to teach middle school and high school students resistance skills and tactics to help them practice abstinence and build relationships without having sex. It also provides information about male and female reproductive systems as well as sexually transmitted diseases.

Intervention Components

Component 1: Curriculum

The classroom-based curriculum is 450 minutes, delivered in five 90-minute sessions or ten 45-minute sessions, depending on the school schedule. It is delivered during required health classes on consecutive days. The material is grouped into the following five sections, each of which contains writing exercises, discussion, and/or activities:

  • Section 1: Sexual Abstinence: The New Revolution. This section defines abstinence and explains the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
  • Section 2: Family Formation. This section covers anatomical information about the male and female reproductive systems, pregnancy, and births. It also discusses family goals and marriage.
  • Section 3: STD Facts. This section provides information about sexually transmitted diseases and it discusses how to refuse sex in different settings.
  • Section 4: Love, Lust, Infatuation. This section asks students to distinguish between love and infatuation and to identify the traits they desire in a committed partner. It discusses how to cultivate a relationship without sex.
  • Section 5: The SAFE Plan. This section reviews a four-step plan for resisting sexual activity and includes role-playing exercises to help students practice it.
  • Theoretical Framework

    Study Citation: Weed, S. E., Birch, P. J., Ericksen, I. H., & Olsen, J. A. (2011). Testing a predictive model of youth sexual intercourse initiation. Unpublished manuscript.

    Study setting: 41 South Carolina schools

    Study Sample: 2,215 7th- through 9th-grade students

  • 63% African American
  • 42% male and 58% female
  • Study Design: Quasi-experimental design. The study compared 1,828 students from 34 schools that implemented the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education program with 387 students from 7 schools that did not have the program. Data were collected immediately before and after the program and again a year after the program had ended.

    Study Rating: The study met the review criteria for a moderate study rating. It did not meet the review criteria for a high study rating because students were not assigned at random to the intervention and comparison groups.

    Study Findings:

    A year after the program ended:

  • Students participating in the intervention were less likely to report having ever had sex.
  • Program impacts were also examined for measures of recent sexual activity and number of sexual partners. Findings for these outcomes were not considered for the review because they did not meet the review evidence standards. Specifically, findings for these outcomes did not statistically adjust for behaviors measured at baseline.
  • Curriculum Materials

    Information on curriculum materials is available through

    Training and TA: Teachers are required to complete training sessions offered by Heritage Community Services.

    Additional Information

    TPP Resource Center: Evidence-Based Programs