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Can we protect our daughters from sex, drugs and alcohol? Best Friends founder Elayne Bennett (wife of former Education Sec Wm. Bennett) says “yes.” While working with teens 15 years ago in Washington, D.C., she saw girls who were anxious, depressed and felt pressured into sex. “I knew someone needed to start talking to them,” Bennett said. Thanks to her efforts and supporters such as Alma Powell (wife of Sec of State Colin Powell) & Lynne Cheney (wife of the Vice President), Best Friends now has 5500 participants in 14 states. Best Friends emphasizes positive behavior, peer support and adult mentors.

It provides more than 110 hours of guidance/activities annually in grades 5-12 and even offers college scholarships. Statistics show the program works: In Washington, D.C., just 5% of the eighth-grade girls in Best Friends are sexually active, compared to 32% of their classmates. The boys’ group is called Best Men. [Parade magazine 3Feb02]