Jan 08, 2015


Get Real is a middle school-based program intended to delay students’ initiation of sexual intercourse.  Although the program emphasizes delaying sex, it also includes accurate information about contraceptives and STDs.  In addition to the school-based lessons, Get Real includes a family activity component to help parents communicate their values concerning sex and relationships to their children.  An experimental evaluation of Get Real found that participants were significantly less likely to become sexually active by the end of 8th grade than control group participants.


Target population:  Middle school students

Get Real was developed by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts to delay middle school students’ initiation of sexual intercourse.  The program emphasizes delaying sex as a healthy choice, while also providing medically accurate information about protection.  The program focuses on building relational skills as a means to make healthy choices regarding sexual relationships byproviding culturally sensitive and age-appropriate information. While educators trained by the curriculum developer teach all school based lessons, Get Real designates parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children and includes family activities to give parents an opportunity to transmit their values about sex and relationships. The family activities include talking about healthy and unhealthy relationships, discussing media images of sexuality, answering true/false questions about HIV and AIDS, and practicing how to say ‘no’ to unwanted activities. Get Real consists of nine school based lessons and eight family activities in each year across grades 6, 7, and 8.


Grossman, J.M., Tracy, A.J., Charmaraman, L., Ceder, I., Erkut, S. (2014).  Protective effects of middle school comprehensive sex education with family involvement.  Journal of School Health, 84(11).  739-747.

Evaluated Population: A total of 2,453 middle school students, attending 24 middle schools in the greater Boston area,participated in the study.

Students in the program group were more likely to be White/Caucasian than those in the control group (31 percent vs. 14 percent), and students in the control group were more likely to be Black/African American (42 percent vs. 32 percent) or Asian (7 percent vs. 4 percent) than those in the program group.  More students in the program group lived in a two parent-home (51 percent vs. 47 percent) and had a higher median family income ($57,964 vs. $44,416 in 2009) than students in the control group.  However, there were no significant differences between the program and control groups in reports of having had sex at baseline.

Approach: Half of the 24 schools that had agreed to participate in the study were randomly assigned to receive the Get Real program (n=12), and half were assigned to the control group (n=12).  The schools not implementing the program continued with their existing sex education programs.

Data were collected at three times: baseline (at the beginning of grade 6), at the beginning of grade 7, and at the end of grade 8.  Data collected included the outcome variable of interest, whether the participant had sex, as well as demographics, such as age, ethnicity, gender, household composition and income, school grades, social desirability, parent/guardian closeness, family participation, and student attendance in Get Real.

Baseline surveys were completed by 2,018 students, while 1,943 students completed surveys in grade 7, and 1,754 completed surveys in grade 8.  Overall, 56 percent of students completed surveys in all three years, and the remaining 44 percent either completed the baseline survey but had missing data at either of the follow-up timepoints or did not complete baseline surveyyet completed the grade 7 or 8 survey. Missing baseline data were imputed and missing follow-up data were handled through full maximum likelihood.

Results:  Results indicate that there was a statistically significant impact on the likelihood students would become sexually active by the end of grade 8. Sexual initiation rates were 15 percent lower for female participants and16 percent lower for male participants than males and females in the control group.




Grossman, J.M., Tracy, A.J., Charmaraman, L., Ceder, I., Erkut, S. (2014).  Protective effects of middle school comprehensive sex education with family involvement.  Journal of School Health, 84(11).  739-747.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, Males and Females (Co-ed), School-based, Cost, Manual, Parent or Family Component, Abstinence Education, Social Skills/Life Skills, Sexual Activity, Condom Use and Contraception, STD/HIV/AIDS,

Program information last updated on 1/8/2015