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Characteristics of sexually active and abstinent youth participating in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Texas

Eric R. Buhi, MPH, Patricia Goodson, PhD, Buzz Pruitt, EdD, Kelly Wilson, MEd, and Emily Davis, BS. Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, 158 Read, College Station, TX 77843-4243, 979-458-2007, buhi@neo.tamu.edu

There is extensive evidence correlating intra-personal factors (e.g., perceptions of peer norms, positive attitudes) with youth’s intention to remain abstinent. The purpose of this research is to investigate differences in intra-personal characteristics between sexually active and abstinent 9th-12th graders participating in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Baseline data were collected for a state-wide evaluation of Title V programs in Texas.

A sample of 313 high schoolers participating in Title V programs responded to an anonymous baseline survey. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to test for significant differences between sexually active and abstinent adolescents on each of nine intra-personal characteristics.

Preliminary results indicate statistically significant differences between sexually abstinent and active youth on all nine characteristics. Abstinent adolescents were more likely than their sexually active counterparts to have higher self-esteem, stronger beliefs about and higher personal standards for abstinent behavior, negative emotions associated with pre-marital sex, positive emotions associated with abstinence, and a higher level of self-efficacy (e.g., resistance skills). Abstinent adolescents were also more likely to perceive that people important to them support abstinence-only-until-marriage as the norm. On the contrary, sexually active adolescents were more likely than their abstinent peers to report positive emotions associated with sexual activity and perceive that their peers reject the abstinence-only-until-marriage norm.

Sexually abstinent adolescents participating in Title V abstinence-only programs are entering these programs supporting the abstinence-only message. This finding may have important implications for detecting program effects at post-survey and follow-up.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to

Keywords: Sexual Behavior, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

School-Based HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA