Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950565 | Print ISBN: 9780761928201 | Online ISBN: 9781412950565| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Abstinence in Adolescence
Stephen T. Russell & Michael S. Brockman
In recent years, the notion of “abstinence” as a youth public health message—specifically, that the only healthy sexual expression is abstinence—has taken on weighty political and ideological meanings. This entry explores the ways that “abstinence-only” policies in the United States have served to create and sustain a counterproductive climate of silence. It also demonstrates how the concept, when taken at face value, is incongruous with normative and healthy adolescent development. By becoming a guiding directive of contemporary U.S. sexuality education policy, abstinence has come to represent a specific and rigid political, ideological, and moral framework for thinking about adolescent sexuality and health. It could be up to applied developmental scientists to reclaim abstinence and reframe it as an important goal of programmatic efforts and provide young people with the information, skills, resources, and motivation they need to make healthy choices for themselves and their communities. Contemporary U.S. culture is wrought ...