Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Abbott, D. & Dalla, R. L. (2008). “It’s a choice, simple as that”: Youth Reasoning for Sexual Abstinence or Activity. Journal of Youth Studies, 11(6), 629-649.

DOI: 10.1080/13676260802225751


Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


This investigation was designed to fill gaps in the extant literature by examining reasons give 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.