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Summary: "Best Friends" Program Reduced Girls' Chances of Engaging in Risky Behaviors

The "Best Friends" program was shown to have reduced the likelihood of girls engaging in risky behaviors, such as using illegal drugs, having sex, smoking, and drinking. The relative odds of a Best Friends girl abstaining from sex compared to other girls (as measured by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of the District of Columbia) are 120 to 1.

  • The national Best Friends program involved implementing an extensive year-long curriculum focusing on teen self-control and reducing multiple risk behaviors (sex, drugs, smoking, and alcohol). Schools hold Best Friends sessions during school hours, and girls are provided with weekly fitness/dance classes. The curriculum covers eight units: "Friendship," "Love and Dating," "Self-Respect," "Decision Making," "Alcohol Abuse," "Drug Abuse," "Physical Fitness and Nutrition," and "AIDS and STDs." It continues through the high school level as the "Diamond Girls" program. This study, published in the Journal of Adolescent and Family Health, found that best Friends girls are less likely to engage in risk behaviors than other girls, based on the District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Differences were not due to age, grade, race/ethnicity, or the year that the surveys were conducted. At every grade level, Best Friends girls were significantly less likely to use illegal drugs, have sex, smoke, and drink.1

1Lerner, Robert. Can Abstinence Work?: An Analysis of the Best Friends Program, Journal of Adolescent and Family Health, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2005.

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