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CONTEXT: Initiation of sexual intercourse prior to high school is prevalent among inner-city black and Hispanic youths, and has multiple negative health and social consequences. A promising strategy for addressing early adolescent sexual activity is parent education that addresses normal pubertal changes and the challenges of becoming a teenager.

METHODS: A 2003–2005 randomized trial to test the effectiveness of Saving Sex for Later, a parent education program presented on three audio CDs, enrolled 846 families with fifth- and sixth-grade students in seven New York City schools. Parent and youth surveys were conducted at baseline and three months postintervention. Multivariate logistic and linear regression analyses were performed to assess relationships between youth and parent outcomes and treatment condition.

RESULTS: At follow-up, parents in the intervention group were significantly more likely than controls to score high on indexes of communication with children about targeted risk behaviors, self-efficacy to discuss pubertal development and sexuality, and perceived influence over youths’ behaviors (odds ratios, 1.9–2.5). Youths in the intervention condition were more likely than controls to report high family support, and reported more family rules and fewer behavioral risks. Family support and rules partially mediate the relationship between treatment condition and behavioral risks.

CONCLUSION: Saving Sex for Later is a promising intervention for promoting youths' sexual abstinence. The intervention may also be effective in enhancing positive parenting practices among parents who are typically difficult to reach because of economic hardship, full schedules and complicated lives.