Abstinence perceived by teens as step toward sex

August 12, 2008

Teenagers may feel that abstinence does not exclude sexual activity, but simply a natural step that precedes it, according to the June Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Teenagers may feel that abstinence does not exclude sexual activity, but simply a natural step that precedes it, according to the June Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Investigators collected data on attitudes and intentions related to abstinence and sex from 365 adolescents ages 12 to 15. Results showed that teens who had positive attitudes and intentions about abstinence were less likely to subsequently engage in sexual activity, while participants with positive attitudes and intentions were likely to engage in sex.

However, among teens with low levels of sex intention, greater intention to abstain from sex had little effect on the predicted probability of having sex. Among teens with high levels of sex intention, greater intention to abstain from sex was linked to an increase in the predicted probability of having sex.

"Youth do not consider abstinence and sexual activity opposing constructs, and solely instilling positive abstinence attitudes and intentions in youth may not have robust effects in preventing sexual activity," the researchers concluded.1

Reference
1. Masters NT, Beadnell BA, Morrison DM, et al. The opposite of sex? Adolescents' thoughts about abstinence and sex, and their sexual behavior. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2008;40:87-93