Sex, Abstinence and Media

Take It Seriously: Sex, Abstinence & Media (TISSAM)

Funding Source: Washington State Department of Health
Principal Investigator: Marilyn Cohen

Project Summary:
Take It Seriously: Sex, Abstinence & Media (TISSAM) is focused on the goals of teen pregnancy prevention and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Each year approximately 750,000 teen girls in the U.S. become pregnant. US teen pregnancy rates are higher than those of other developed countries. Not only does teen pregnancy continue to be a problem in this country, but a fact that seems less well known among the general public is that one in four sexually active teens will acquire a sexually transmitted disease each year. Funded by the Washington State Department of Health, TISSAM is a sex education curriculum unit that the NW Center for Excellence in Media Literacy has developed in collaboration with groups of high school age teens all across the state. An important feature of TISSAM is that it has been designed so that it can be presented by high school age teens to younger teen audiences in 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

TISSAM provides a comprehensive approach to sex education including both the abstinence message as well as information about safer sex. TISSAM involves both schools and community groups and reaches middle and high school age youth across Washington with critical messages about sexuality. The research conducted over 5 years indicates that this program provides a very promising approach to education regarding sexual and reproductive health. Program development and research was made possible with funding from Washington State Department of Health. TISSAM is currently being made available to classrooms and after-school programs across Washington State.

For more information about this program, please visit the project website at