Adult identity mentoring: Reducing sexual risk for African-American seventh grade students



      This study was undertaken to determine whether the Adult Identity Mentoring (AIM) project successfully promotes abstinence, delays initiation of sex, and decreases intention to engage in sex.


      Twenty middle school classes of African-American seventh graders were randomly assigned to receive either the AIM intervention or a standard health education control curriculum. The AIM is a 10-session curriculum based on the theory of possible selves. Class exercises encourage students to articulate a possible future self-identity and to develop self-promotion skills. Surveys about sexual activity were conducted before the intervention, 19 weeks after baseline, and again at 1 year after the intervention.


      Hierarchical logistic regression analyses showed significant effects for the intervention on sexual intentions, abstinence, and a trend toward fewer virgins initiating intercourse for the first time, 19 weeks after baseline. Specifically, students who received the intervention showed decreased intention to engage in sex and increased abstinence compared with students not receiving the intervention. Effects for 1-year follow-up, with smaller sample size, showed only that AIM male participants maintained the significant abstinence effect.


      A new intervention, AIM was evaluated among African-American seventh graders. This program, by focusing students on positive future selves, effectively modified sexual risk without directly providing instruction on sexually explicit topics.


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