Talking About Teen Talk: Young People’s Experiences in a Sexuality Education Program

  • Marisol Garcia
  • Iva Košutić
  • Tatiana Melendez-RhodesEmail author


In the past three decades, a number of sexuality education programs have been developed, implemented, and evaluated in communities throughout the United States. This study explores experiences of young people in Teen Talk, a clinic-based sexuality education program developed to provide engaging and medically accurate education about contraception and abstinence, as well as to promote access to reproductive health care. Through focus group discussions with 49 young people in northeastern U.S., this study explored Teen Talk participants’ perceptions of this program and its impacts. A thematic analysis of open-ended data showed that Teen Talk experiences and learning were shaped by the group process within each rendition of Teen Talk, as well as the context of the organization that developed and facilitated the program. Additionally, the results showed that Teen Talk was well liked and was perceived as a site of “actual learning” among youth who attended it at their own initiative or through peer networks. In contrast, experiences in the program and perceptions of its impact reflected a wide range of views—some positive, others negative—among youth who attended Teen Talk at the urging of child welfare staff. Public policy recommendations for educators who are working with young people who have experienced sexual abuse and trauma are discussed.


Sexuality education Child welfare Youth Foster care Trauma 



The authors wish to thank Sharma McCarty and Lindsay Cuadras for their diligence and dedication to this project.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the State Personal Responsibility Education Program grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Family and Youth Service Bureau (FYSB), CFDA# 93.092 to the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy ProgramLewis & Clark CollegePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Partners in Social ResearchAvonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Counselor Education & Family TherapyCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA

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