'It's a choice, simple as that': Youth reasoning for sexual abstinence or activity

Douglas A. Abbott, Rochelle L. Dalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This investigation was designed to fill gaps in the extant literature by examining reasons given by youth for refraining from or engaging in sexual intercourse, in addition to their perceptions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of premarital intercourse. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 103 graduating seniors; 60 self-identified as sexually abstinent and 43 as sexually active. Survey indices were used to assess parent-youth relationships, and parent and peer attitudes toward premarital sex, religiosity, and dating patterns; open-ended questions were used to assess reasons for either engaging in or refraining from sexual intercourse, and to identify benefits and problems associated with both sexual participation and abstinence. The abstinent youth also described strategies employed for avoiding premarital sexual intercourse. Suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-649
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Premarital intercourse
  • Sexual abstinence
  • Sexual decision-making
  • Sexuality
  • Youth sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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