Abstinence Data Pulled From Family Watch International Website


Abstinence Overview


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The most reliable way to avoid transmission of STDs is to abstain from oral, vaginal, and anal sex or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner known to be uninfected.”[1] It is an indisputable fact that abstinence until marriage is the only 100 percent effective method for preventing teen pregnancy and STIs including HIV.

Yet sex education programs for youth that teach these facts and that encourage youth to remain abstinent are often incorrectly labeled as “religious,” “fear based,” “medically inaccurate,” or criticized by opponents as being designed to instill guilt and shame.

Research regarding abstinence and sexuality education that is often cited internationally largely comes from the United States and shows that teens who are sexually active can experience the following negative consequences:[2] 

·       Less likely to use contraception[3] 

·       More likely to experience an STI[4] 

·       More concurrent or lifetime sexual partners[5]

·       More likely to experience pregnancy[6] 

·       Lower educational attainment (not necessarily linked to pregnancy)[7] 

·       Increased sexual abuse and victimization[8] 

·       Decreased general physical and psychological health, including depression[9] 

·       Decreased relationship quality, stability and more likely to divorce[10] 

·       More frequent engagement in other risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drugs[11]

·       More likely to participate in antisocial or delinquent behavior[12] 

·       Less likely to exercise self-efficacy and self-regulation[13] 

·       Less attachment to parents, school and faith[14] 

·       Less financial net worth and more likely to live in poverty[15] 

·       Early sexual behaviors set a pattern for later ones[16]

A compelling report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Youth Risk Behavior Survey released in 2016, shows that youth who remain abstinent rate significantly and consistently better in nearly all health-related behaviors and measures than their sexually active peers. Sexually abstinent youth are less likely to smoke daily, binge drink, smoke marijuana, ride with a drunk driver, engage in physical fights, use IV drugs, experience dating violence, and are more likely to wear a seat belt, get a good night’s sleep, and eat breakfast daily.[17]

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey released two years later in 2018 found much the same thing. Compared to students who had sexual contact with the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes, students who had no sexual contact had much lower rates of:

·       all five injury-related risk behaviors

·       all 13 violence-related risk behaviors

·       all five suicide-related risk behaviors

·       all 19 tobacco use-related risk behaviors

·      all 19 risk behaviors related to alcohol and other drug use[18]

Clearly, it would be in the best interest of youth to avoid all of these problems by delaying sexual debut.


[1] 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. (2015, June 4). U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/clinical.htm

[2] Sexual Risk Avoidance Works. (2016). Retrieved from http://weascend.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SRA-Works-web.pdf

[3] Crosby, R., Geter, A., Ricks, J., Jones, M., Salazar, L. (2015). Developmental investigation of age at sexual debut and subsequent sexual risk behaviours: a study of high-risk young black males. Sexual Health, 12, 390–396; Sandfort, T., Orr, M., Hirsch, J., Santelli, J. (2008). Long-Term Health Correlates of Timing of Sexual Debut: Results from a National US Study American Journal of Public Health, 98, 155-161.

[4] Magnusson, B., Masho, S., Lapane, K. (2012). Early Age at First Intercourse and Subsequent Gaps in Contraceptive Use. Journal of Women’s Health, 21, 73-79; Bradley, B., Greene, A. (2013). Do health and education agencies in the US share responsibility for academic achievement and health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 523-532; Scott, M., Wildsmith, E., Welti, K., Ryan, S., Schelar, E., Steward-Streng, N. (2011). Risky Adolescent sexual behaviors and reproductive health in young adulthood. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 43, 110–118.

[5] Sandfort, T., Orr, M., Hirsch, J., Santelli, J. (2008). Long-Term Health Correlates of Timing of Sexual Debut: Results From a National US Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 155-161; Lee, S. Y., Lee, H. J., Kim, T. K., Lee, S. G., & Park, E. C. (2015). Sexually Transmitted Infections and First Sexual Intercourse Age in Adolescents: The Nationwide Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12,2313–2323.

[6] Kastborn, A., Sydsjo, G., Bladh, M., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. (2015). Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behavior in later life. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 91-100; Bradley, B., Greene, A. (2013). Do health and education agencies in the US share responsibility for academic achievement and health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 5213-532. Magnusson, B., Nield, J., Lapane, K., (2015). Age at first intercourse and subsequent sexual partnering among adult women in the US, a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health, 15, 98; Heywood, W., Patrick, K. A., Pitt, M. (2015). Associations between early first sexual intercourse and later sexual and reproductive outcomes: a systematic review of population-based data. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 531-569.

[7] Bradley, B., Greene, A. (2013). Do health and education agencies in the US share responsibility for academic achievement and health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 523-532.

[8] Kagesten, A., Blum, R. (2015). Characteristics of youth who report early sexual experiences in Sweden.Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 679-694; Raine, T. R., Jenkins, R., Aarons, S. J., et al. (1999). Sociodemographic correlates of virginity in seventh grade black and Latino students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 24, 304-312; Schvaneveldt, P. L., Miller, B. C., Berry, E. H., Lee, T. R. (2009). Academic goals, achievement, and age at first sexual intercourse.Adolescence 2001, 36, 767-787; Sabia, J. J., Rees, D. I., The effect of sexual abstinence on females’ educational attainment. Demography, 46, 695-715; Tubman, J. G., Windle, M., Windle, R. C. (1996). The onset and cross-temporal patterning of sexual intercourse in middle adolescence: Prospective relations with behavioral and emotional problems. Child Development, 67, 327-343; Bradley, B., Greene, A. (2013). Do health and education agencies in the US share responsibility for academic achievement and health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 523-532; Finger, R., Thelen, T., Vessey, J. T., Mohn, J. K., Mann, J. R. (2004). Association of virginity at age 18 with educational, economic, social, and health outcomes in middle adulthood. Adolescent and Family Health, 3,164–170; Parkes, A., Wight, D., Henderson, M., West, P. (2010). Does early sexual debut reduce teenagers’ participation in tertiary education? Evidence from the SHARE longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescence, 33,741–754; Annang, L., Walsemann, K., Maitra, D., Kerr, J. (2010). Does Education Matter? Examining Racial Differences Between Education and STI Diagnosis Among Black and White Young Adult Females in the United States. Social Determinants of Health, 125, 110-121; Spriggs, A. L., Halpern, C. T. (2008). Timing of sexual debut and initiation of postsecondary education by early adulthood. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40, 152–161.

[9] Kastborn, A., Sydsjo, G., Bladh, M., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. (2015). Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behavior in later life. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 91-100.

[10] Sandfort, T., Orr, M., Hirsch, J., Santelli, J. (2008). Long-Term Health Correlates of Timing of Sexual Debut: Results From a National US Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 155-161; Finger, R., Thelen, T., Vessey, J. T., Mohn, J. K., Mann, J. R. (2004). Association of virginity at age 18 with educational, economic, social, and health outcomes in middle adulthood. Adolescent and Family Health, 3, 164–170; Tubman, J. G., Windle, M., Windle, R. C. (1996). The onset and cross-temporal patterning of sexual intercourse in middle adolescence: Prospective relations with behavioral and emotional problems. Child Development, 67, 327-343; Lara, L. A., Abdo, C. H. (2016). Age of initial sexual intercourse and health of adolescent girls. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 5, 417-423;  Armour, S., Haynie, D. (2006). Adolescent Sexual Debut and Later Delinquency.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 141–152; Hallfors, D. D., Waller, M. W., Bauer, D., Ford, C. A., Halpern CT. (2005). Which comes first in adolescence—sex and drugs or depression? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29, 163–170; Paik, A. (2011). Adolescent Sexuality and the Risk of Marital Dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73,  472-485; Sandfort, T., Orr, M., Hirsch, J., Santelli, J. (2008). Long-Term Health Correlates of Timing of Sexual Debut: Results from a National US Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 155-161.

[11] Kastborn, A., Sydsjo, G., Bladh, M., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. (2015). Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behavior in later life. Acta Paediatrica, 104,  91-100; Raine, T. R., Jenkins, R., Aarons, S. J., et al. (1999). Sociodemographic correlates of virginity in seventh grade black and Latino students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 24, 304-312; Capaldi, D. M., Crosby, L., Stoolmiller, M. (1996). Predicting the timing of first sexual intercourse for at-risk adolescent males. Child Development, 67, 344-359; Santelli, J. S., Kaiser, J., Hirsch, L., et al. (2004). Initiation of sexual intercourse among middle school adolescents: The influence of psychosocial factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 34,200-208; Tubman, J. G., Windle, M., Windle, R. C. (1996). The onset and cross-temporal patterning of sexual intercourse in middle adolescence: Prospective relations with behavioral and emotional problems. Child Development, 67, 327-343; Thamotharan, S., Grabowski, K., Stefano, E., Fields, S. (2015). An examination of sexual risk behaviors in adolescent substance users.International Journal of Sexual Health, 27, 106-124;Madkour, A., Farhat, T., Halpern, C., Godeau, E., Gabhainn, S. (2010). Early Adolescent Sexual Initiation as a Problem Behavior: A Comparative Study of Five Nations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 389–398; Armour, S., Haynie, D. (2007). Adolescent Sexual Debut and Later Delinquency. Journal of Youth andAdolescence, 36, 141–152; Bradley, B., Greene, A. (2013). Do health and education agencies in the US share responsibility for academic achievement and health? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 523-532.

[12] Kastborn, A., Sydsjo, G., Bladh, M., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. (2015). Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behavior in later life. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 91-100; Capaldi, D. M., Crosby, L., Stoolmiller, M. (1996). Predicting the timing of first sexual intercourse for at-risk adolescent males.Child Development, 67, 344-359; Tubman, J. G., Windle, M., Windle, R. C. (1996). The onset and cross-temporal patterning of sexual intercourse in middle adolescence: Prospective relations with behavioral and emotional problems. Child Development, 67, 327-343; McLeod, J., Knight, S. (2010). The association of socioemotional problems with early sexual initiation. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 42, 93-101; Armour, S., Haynie, D. (2006). Adolescent Sexual Debut and Later Delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36,141–152.

[13] Kastborn, A., Sydsjo, G., Bladh, M., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. (2015). Sexual debut before the age of 14 leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behavior in later life. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 91-100; McLeod, J., Knight, S. (2010). The association of socioemotional problems with early sexual initiation. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 42, 93-101;

[14] Ream, G. L. (2006). Reciprocal effects between the perceived environment and heterosexual intercourse among adolescents. Journal of Youth an Adolescents, 35, 771–785; Madkour, A., Farhat, T., Halpern, C., Godeau, E., Gabhainn, S. (2010). Early Adolescent Sexual Initiation as a Problem Behavior: A Comparative Study of Five Nations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47,389–398; Finger, R., Thelen, T., Vessey, J. T., Mohn, J. K., Mann, J. R. (2004). Association of virginity at age 18 with educational, economic, social, and health outcomes in middle adulthood. Adolescent and Family Health, 3, 164–170.

[15] Finger, R., Thelen, T., Vessey, J. T., Mohn, J. K., Mann, J. R. (2004). Association of virginity at age 18 with educational, economic, social, and health outcomes in middle adulthood. Adolescent and Family Health, 3, 164–170.

[16] Scott, M., Wildsmith, E., Welti, K., Ryan, S., Schelar, E., Steward-Streng, N. (2011). Risky Adolescent sexual behaviors and reproductive health in young adulthood.Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 43, 110–118; Manlove, J., Ryan, S., and Franzetta, K. (2007). Contraceptive use patterns across teens’ sexual relationships: the role of relationships, partners, and sexual histories. Demography, 44, 603–621; Manning, W. D., Longmore, M. & Giordano, P. C., (2005). Adolescents’ involvement in non-romantic sexual activity. Social Science Research, 34, 384–407.

[17] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, August 12). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — United States and Selected Sites, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/pdfs/ss6509.pdf

[18] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, June 15). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — United States and Selected Sites, 2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2017/ss6708.pdf

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