Parent education program on youth sexual health produces positive results for Texas border towns

Austin, TX – – – March 11, 2011 – – – The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MI) had parent power in mind when they designed their Building Family Connections (BFC) sexual health curriculum.

MI believes parents are an important influence on adolescent sexual decision making and encourages them to guide their children toward the healthiest decisions. However, parents may be reluctant to talk with their children about sex-related topics due to embarrassment or a lack of information and tools. MI created the BFC curriculum to provide information and skills to increase sexual health communication among adolescents, parents and educators. The curriculum aims to increase parents’ knowledge of risk factors for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teen pregnancy and provide them with the tools to effectively communicate with their children about sexual health.

Keeping Spanish-speaking parents in mind, MI also created Construyendo Familias Unidas — a Spanish version of BFC. The Spanish sexual health program was provided to parenting adults and educators in two poverty-stricken, predominately Hispanic areas in El Paso County, Texas. These Texas border areas are disproportionately affected by teen pregnancies and STIs. From 2007-2009, parents and grandparents participated in a 10-hour training on teen pregnancy and STIs, abstinence and contraception, as well as effective parent-child communication and youth sexual decision making.

About 260 parenting adults who attended the curriculum classes provided survey data on their sexual health knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Survey data revealed that participants attending the classes significantly increased their knowledge of the risk factors for teen pregnancy and STIs as well as dating violence among youth. There were also significant increases in reported comfort and frequency of communication with children on sexual health issues.

The program’s success indicates a how programs such as Building Family Connections/Construyendo Familias Unidas that are culturally, educationally and linguistically appropriate and that focus on increasing parental involvement among minority populations can be used to improve youth sexual health.

The MI presentation on the program and its results at the 138th Annual American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, CO generated much interest among people serving parents in communities across the nation.

The Medical Institute is a non-profit (501c3) that empowers, safe, healthy living by communicating objective sexual health information. Through research-based resources, the Medical Institute is helping people live safer, happier, healthier lives. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Sheetal Malhotra
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