A Pediatrician Perspective on SRAE:
Research Evidence, Clinical Experience, and Emerging Approaches.
Every year, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (APP), as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) and the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), holds a conference to help provide resources and networking for grant recipients. This year, because of the pandemic, the conference went virtual. Over 775 grantees from around the United states tuned in to be a part of Creating a 20/20 Vision: Healthy Youth, Healthy Futures.
Five members of the American College of Pediatricians presented A Pediatrician Perspective on SRAE: Research Evidence, Clinical Experience and Emerging Approaches: Dr. Joe Zanga, Dr. Tom Benton, Dr Nick Yates, and Dr. Jill Simons. Irene Ericksen, a scientist with the Institute for Research and evaluation (IRE), a friend of the ACPeds, and co-author of the ACPeds position statement on School-Based Sex Education in the United States, was also a crucial member of the team.
The presentation discussed the ACPeds support for Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) in Schools in lieu of Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE). As pediatricians who advocate the Best for children, we know that only the primary public health principle of risk avoidance optimally protects youth against all possible physical, mental, social and emotional consequences of non-marital sexual activity.
A landmark new study from IRE supported the ACPeds’ position with research evidence. Irene Ericksen, the lead author of the publication, provided data from the recently published report. It was a review of 120 of the strongest, most up to date studies of school-based sex education worldwide and spanned 30 years of sex education research. The authors found that claims of CSE success are based on questionable criteria for effectiveness.
In fact, none of the CSE programs in US schools reduced teen pregnancy or STDs or increased consistent condom use 12 months after the program, for the target population, without producing other negative effects. On the other hand, SRAE in schools looks to perform better than CSE, showing higher rates of effectiveness. This data offered much validation and encouragement to those attendees teaching SRAE.
The presentation concluded with Dr. Zanga’s discussion on the correlation between adolescent pregnancy and Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. He stressed the importance of the protective factors of Resilience, and how we can all play a role in helping foster more resilience in youth.
The American College of Pediatricians made an impression on the conference attendees with its bold presentation of evidence-based research on what is Best for Children when it comes to preventing adolescent pregnancy. The presentation PowerPoint will be available on the FYSB website as a resource for years to come and will also be available on the ACPeds website as a primary resource supporting SRAE education.