By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

1. Distinguish between different definitions of sexual abstinence from public health sources, books, websites, etc., and their motivations and reasons for valuing abstinence.

2. Understand that abstinence is a conscious choice for any time and for any duration.

3. Describe reasons for using or not using abstinence, including the possible benefits and drawbacks to choosing abstinence or sexual intercourse.

4. Develop a definition of abstinence that reflects their values, motivations and desired outcomes for using abstinence.


Young people need to know that abstinence is a far more complex, difficult concept than it is often portrayed as being. Abstinence is a decision about sexual behaviors that a person may make throughout his or her life. It is a choice made at a specific time in a specific situation, for a specific period of time, whether one is in a partnered relationship or not. Among other things, young people need to come to terms with how they each define abstinence, their reasons for choosing or not choosing abstinence, how and when they will communicate with existing or potential partners about their decisions and how they will commit to and carry out their sexual decisions.

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