Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality
Volume 5, Oct. 23, 2002


An Evaluation of a Community-Based Sexuality Education Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Plunkett et al


Many individuals with developmental disabilities have little or no comprehension of sexuality and a very limited way to express their feelings (Burke, Bedard, & Ludwig, 1998). This is very troublesome for a variety of reasons. First, individuals with limited exposure to sexuality education and abuse prevention may not recognize the abusive nature of sexual contacts. Therefore, it is not surprising that research has documented a high rate of sexual victimization of adults with developmental disabilities (Lumley & Miltenberger, 1997; Sobsey, 1994). Yet, even this high prevalence may be under-reported since the nature of the disability can inhibit detection (Burke et al., 1998).

Sexual victims who have developmental disabilities are often victimized repeatedly (Sobsey & Doe, 1991). Also, sexually active adults with developmental disabilities are in need of information about contraception and disease prevention at an appropriate level of comprehension (Martin, 1997). Therefore, there is a strong need for effective community-based sex education programs that can meet the needs of these individuals.

However, simply providing sexuality education to this population is not sufficient. The quality of the program must be ensured to meet the participants’ needs. In addition, when government budgets start to diminish, social programs are under greater inspection and accountability by the policymakers (Small, 1990).Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the Responsible Choices for Sexuality© Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and to provide implications for others interested in developing or evaluating similar programs. 


The following definitions will assist in the operationalization of variables, concepts, and terms used throughout the paper.

Research Questions

This program evaluation was guided by the following research questions:

Go to Selected Review of Issues Related to Sexuality of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

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