High School Lesson 9 Sample

Students define abstinence and learn the steps to refusing effectively. In small groups, they practice using refusal skills and observe their peers modeling effective refusal skills.

Student Learning Objectives

The student will be able to …

  1. Define abstinence.
  2. Demonstrate effective use of refusal skills.
  3. Analyze influences that may have an impact on deciding to be abstinent.

Lesson Timing

Activity Duration
Warm-up Bell work + 2 minutes
Purpose of lesson and definition of abstinence 3 minutes
Teach refusal skills 12 minutes
Refusal skills scenarios 10 minutes
Small-group practice 20 minutes
Assign homework  
Exit ticket 3 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Key Concepts | Standards | Rationale | References

Key Concepts

Most high school students are abstinent.

  • Abstinence means choosing not to have oral, anal and vaginal sex.
  • Oral sex is when one person’s mouth goes on another person’s genitals, anal sex is when a penis goes in someone’s anus (butt), and vaginal sex is when a penis goes in someone’s vagina.

There are times in everyone’s life when abstaining from sex is the healthiest choice.

  • People choose not to have sex for lots of important reasons, including protecting their health and their goals for the future, because of their religion, or because they are waiting for the right person.
  • Most teens and adults choose abstinence at different times in their lives.
  • People of every sexual orientation choose abstinence – gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight.
  • People who have had sex before choose to be abstinent.

Choosing abstinence means a person doesn’t have to worry about pregnancy or STDs.

  • Abstinence is a 100% effective way to not get pregnant or catch an STD.
  • Teens who are not having sex still need to learn about birth control and STDs, so they can be healthy in the future, and so they can help their friends.

Teens who choose not to have sex have many strategies to help them be abstinent.

  • It’s important for people to talk with their partners about whether or not they want to have sex before they are in a sexual situation, but it’s never too late to talk about it.
  • It’s helpful for people to know for themselves the important reasons they are choosing abstinence.
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol makes it easier to be abstinent.
  • It’s helpful to have friends who support the decision to abstain from sex.
  • It’s helpful to avoid situations where sexual activity is more likely, such as being home alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

 

Standards

National Health Education Standards

Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.

  • SH1.12.7 Justify why abstinence from sex and drugs are the safest, most effective risk avoidance methods of protection from HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy.
  • SH1.12.8 Analyze the factors that contribute to engaging in sexual risk behaviors.
  • SH1.12.9 Analyze the factors that protect one against engaging in sexual risk behaviors.
  • SH1.12.10 Summarize ways to prevent pregnancy and the sexual transmission of HIV and other common STDs.
  • SH1.12.11 Summarize the importance of setting personal limits to avoid risky sexual behavior.
  • SH1.12.13 Analyze the relationship between using alcohol and other drugs and sexual risk behaviors.
  • SH1.12.28 Analyze situations that could lead to being pressured to having sex.

Standard 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • SH4.12.1 Demonstrate effective communication skills to promote sexual health and healthy relationships.
  • SH4.12.3 Demonstrate effective peer resistance, negotiation, and collaboration skills to avoid engaging in sexual risk behaviors.
  • SH4.12.4 Demonstrate effective communication strategies to prevent, manage, or resolve interpersonal conflicts.

Standard 7: Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

  • SH7.12.3 Demonstrate practices and behaviors to improve the sexual health of oneself and others.

National Sexuality Education Standards

  • PR.12.IC.1 Demonstrate ways to communicate decisions about whether or when to engage in sexual behaviors.
  • SH.12.CC.2 Evaluate the effectiveness of abstinence, condoms, and other safer sex methods in preventing the spread of STDs, including HIV.
  • HR.12.IC.2 Demonstrate effective ways to communicate personal boundaries as they relate to intimacy and sexual behavior.
  • PS.12.CC.4 Explain why a person who has been raped or sexually assaulted is not at fault.

Washington State Health Education Standards

  • Essential Academic Learning Requirement (EALR) 2: The student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain a healthy life: Recognizes dimensions of health, recognizes stages of growth and development, reduces health risks, and lives safely.
  • Grade Level Expectations (GLE) 2.2.2: Understands how to maintain sexual health throughout life.

 

Rationale

Supporting young people to be abstinent is an important component of teen pregnancy and STD prevention. The FLASH curriculum’s approach to abstinence has benefited greatly from recent research on abstinence education. The FLASH curriculum encourages positive attitudes and positive peer norms about abstinence, builds confidence to remain abstinent, teaches refusal skills, avoids denigrating condoms and birth control, and avoids putting down students who are sexually active.1, 2, 3

Research has shown that most abstinence-only programs are ineffective and can have negative effects on teens’ sexual health and behavior. These programs do not delay sexual initiation, reduce the number of sexual partners, or increase abstinence.4 Some actually decrease contraception and condom use when teens do have sex, and decrease the likelihood of STD testing and treatment.5, 6, 7, The FLASH curriculum seeks to avoid these unintended outcomes by employing a different approach, relying heavily on recent research about abstinence programs with positive outcomes.1,

Gender stereotypes are intentionally avoided throughout the abstinence lesson in an effort to support the sexual violence prevention goals of the curriculum.

 

References

1. Jemmott, J.B., Jemmott, L.S. & Fong, G.T. (2009). Efficacy of a theory-based abstinence-only intervention over 24 months: A randomized control trial with young adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 2, 152-159.

2. Alford, S. (2003). Science and success: Sex education and other programs that work to prevent teen pregnancy, HIV & sexually transmitted infections. Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth.

3. Alford, S. (2008). Science and success, second edition: Programs that work to prevent teen pregnancy, HIV & sexually transmitted infections. Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth.

4. Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging answers 2007: Research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

5. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform. (2004). The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs. Prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman. Washington, DC.

6. Bearman, P., & Brückner, H. (2004). Promising the future: Virginity pledges and the transition to first intercourse. American Journal of Sociology, 106, 4, 859-912.

7. Bearman, P., & Brückner, H. (2005). After the promise: The STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 4, 271-272.

Activities

1. Warm-up

Display warm-up as bell work.

Question: The majority of high school students are abstinent. When people have sexual feelings, they can still make the choice not to have sex. If people have already had sex, they can still make the choice not to have sex at any time.

List at least 2 benefits of being abstinent, or not having sex.

Possible answers: Not getting pregnant, not getting an STD, not having to worry about being pregnant, not having to worry about getting an STD, not adding pressure to the relationship.

2. Define abstinence and explain purpose of lesson

Define abstinence, emphasizing the sexual behaviors that need to be avoided in order to prevent pregnancy and STDs—oral, anal and vaginal sex. Explain that abstinence is very common, and reinforce that it is a decision people make throughout their lives.

Script

Today we are going to discuss abstinence. Can someone define abstinence for me? (Allow students o give their own definitions of abstinence and validate their ideas.)

People have a lot of personal definitions of abstinence. The definition we are going to use in this class is that abstinence means not having oral, anal or vaginal sex. Oral sex is when one person’s mouth goes on another person’s genitals; anal sex is when a penis goes in someone’s anus or butt; and vaginal sex is when a penis goes in someone’s vagina.

The reason we are including all of these types of sex in our in our definition of abstinence is because abstinence is a 100% effective way to not get pregnant or catch an STD. Since people can get STDs from oral, anal and vaginal sex, and can get pregnant from vaginal sex, we are going to include all of these types of sex in our definition of abstinence.

Why do you think it’s important to know that most high school students are abstinent? (Allow students time to respond.)

If someone thought that every student in this school was having sex, how would that feel? (Allow students time to respond.)

It’s important to know that most high school students are not having sex, so that you don’t feel pressured to have sex.

Abstinence is something that teens and adults choose at different times in their lives. People of every sexual orientation, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight people, choose abstinence. And people can choose abstinence at any point in their livse, even if they’ve already had sex.

The purpose of today’s lesson is to learn and practice the important steps in staying abstinent and saying NO to sexual pressure.

3. Teach refusal skills

Brainstorm ways to say NO clearly, including the following points:

  • Say the word NO.
  • Use a clear voice.
  • Match what is being said with body language.

Explain that people can learn skills to help them leave the situation or get help if someone is not respecting their NO.

Stress that forcing or coercing someone to have sex is always wrong. If people are forced or coerced to do something sexually, it’s not their fault.

Show students the Refusal Skills Visual, read the refusal steps, and give a brief explanation of each one.

Script

Everyone can make the decision not to have sex, or to be abstinent. Even ifpeople have had sex before, they can still make a decision not to have sex at different times in their lives. This could be for long periods of time, or it could be that they do not want to have sex in a particular moment or with a particular person.

Once people makesthe decision to not have sex, it’s important to be able to communicate their decision to whomever they are with. It’s also really helpful to avoid situations where they might be tempted to have sex, or where sexual activity is more likely, such as being home alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Even when people have sexual feelings, are curious about sex, or are already kissing or touching each other, they can still make the choice not to have sex.

Sometimes, one person wants to have sex and the other person doesn’t. Teens who choose not to have sex have many strategies they can use to help them be abstinent. What are some things that a person could do to make it clear they mean NO? (Be sure to include the following points: saying NO, clear voice, match what’s being said with body language.)

I want to be really clear that it is always the other person’s responsibility to listen when someone says no to having sex or engaging in any kind of sexual touching. It is never OK to force or coerce someone into having sex or into any kind of sexual touching.

Coercion is manipulating someone into doing something that they do not want to do – including having sex or engaging in sexual touch. If people are forced or coerced into having sex or a sexual act, it is never their fault. It is always the fault of the person who forced or coerced them, and it is always wrong.

Unfortunately, people don’t always want to hear or respond well to NO. There are times when people need to say NO very clearly and leave the situation. They might also need to tell an adult or ask an friend for help.

To be abstinent, there may be times when a person has to refuse to have sex. Sometimes this is easy to do; sometimes it can be difficult. Either way, practice makes it easier.

For the purposes of this lesson, let’s assume that you like the person you are saying NO to and want to continue hanging out, but you do not want to have sex.

Refusal Steps:

  1. Say NO. Clearly state that you do not want to have sex.
  2. Explain why. For example: “I don’t want to get pregnant,” or “I’m not ready to have sex.”
  3. Suggest an alternative. Offer something else that you can do together instead. For example, “I think we should go outside now.”
  4. Leave if you need or want to. Like we discussed earlier, sometimes the other person doesn’t respect your NO. At that point you might need to get out of the situation or get help from someone else.

4. Model and practice refusal skills

Ask two volunteers to demonstrate refusal skills by reading Scenario A (Jonathon and Amber, fully scripted) out loud to the class, with one person reading as Jonathon and another reading as Amber. The purpose is to model the effective use of refusal skills.

Script

Now we will have a chance to practice the refusal skills through a series of scenarios. The first scenario is a sample that already has a script. I will need two volunteers to read the script to the class.

Next, hand out Scenario B (Jonathon and Amber, partially scripted) to all students, and have them practice refusal skills by writing new lines for Jonathon. Remind the class that the person playing Jonathon likes Amber and wants to continue hanging out with her, but does not want to have sex.

After they fill in Jonathon’s script, ask for a new volunteer to read Amber’s part and a second volunteer to read Jonathon’s. As you go through Scenario B, ask if any other students want to offer their responses as well.

5. Small groups practice and debrief

Have students work in small groups to take turns practicing the refusal skills while others take notes on the refusal skills they observed, using the following procedure:

Script

Now you are all going to get a chance to practice using refusal skills by doing 3 more scenarios in small groups.

  • Pass out and review the Refusal Skills Checklist.
  • Break the class into small groups with 3 people per group. Each small group will practice with all 3 scenarios (Scenario C, Scenario D and Scenario E). For each scenario, one person will be the asker, one person will be the refuser, and one person will fill out the Refusal Skills Checklist while observing the practice.
  • Remind the class that the people playing the refusers like the askers and want to continue hanging out with them, even though they also want to say NO.
  • Give students 2 minutes to practice the first scenario.
  • Debrief as a large group after the first the scenario. Ask volunteers from a few groups to give examples of the refusal skills they came up with or observed. Validate all of the refusal language. Ask what kind of body language would help reinforce the refusal.
  • Continue with the remaining scenarios. After completing each scenario and debrief, have students switch roles for the next practice session, so that each person gets the opportunity to be in each role: asker, refuser and observer. The purpose is for everyone to practice refusal skills and to observe good refusal skills.

Conclude the refusals practice.

Script

Great job! You were all so clear and said NO really well. Saying NO is such an important skill to learn. It’s great to know how to do this every day, not just for refusing to have sex. The more you practice the easier it gets. It’s also an important skill to know throughout your life so that you can remain abstinent when you choose.

6.Assign homework

Allow students to choose between the individual or family homework and explain the assignments as needed.

Individual Homework: Beliefs about Abstinence in the U.S.

Family Homework: Talking about Abstinence

Note: The family homework is also available in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic under Resources for Families.

7. Exit ticket

Hand out the Lesson 9 Exit Ticket.

Question: What are three things people could do if they are being pressured by someone to have sex?

Possible answers: Use refusal skills, say NO, explain why, suggest alternative, leave, ask a friend or adult for help.

Lesson 9 Assessment

Assess student learning for this lesson using the Assessment Questions and Assessment Key.