Social and Emotional Consequences of Refraining from Sex (2008)


This article examines positive and negative social and emotional consequences that 9th grade adolescents face when refraining from sexual activity (oral and vaginal sex). The students were from two public high schools in California and were researched for 6 months (from 9th grade to 10th grade). This study measured sexual experience and consequences of refraining for sex according to gender and in terms of the amount of sexual experience of the teenager.

American Journal of Public Health article concluded that “sexual education programs should address how adolescents can cope with or prevent negative consequences of refraining from sexual activity, so that decisions to abstain are rewarding and decisions to engage in sexual activity are motivated by maturity and readiness.” (p. 162)

  • “The percentage of adolescents who reported only positive consequences dropped from 46% to 24% from the fall of ninth grade to the spring of 10th grade among adolescents who remained sexually inexperienced throughout the study.” (p. 164-165)
  • “Regardless of sexual experience, reports of any positive consequences of refraining from sexual activity decreased over time, whereas reports of any negative consequences of refraining from sexual activity increased over time.” (p. 165)

Citation: Brady, S.S. & Halpern-Felsher, B.L. (2008) Social and emotional consequences of refraining from sexual activity among sexually experienced and inexperienced youth in California. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 98., No. 1. 162-168

Link to article.

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