Sawyer, Robin G.; Howard, Donna E.; Brewster-Jordan, Jessica; Gavin, Melissa; Sherman, Maria
March 2007
American Journal of Health Studies;2007, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p46
Academic Journal
A central concern with abstinence education is ambiguity in the operational meaning of terms like abstinence, virginity and sex. This study examined the denotative meaning of sexual terms among a convenience sample of undergraduate students at a Mid-Atlantic university. Findings provide evidence of persistent discordance in their behavioral referents. Such discrepancies highlight numerous dilemmas for researchers and program planners. Implications of this disconnect between abstinence education researchers and their target audience are addressed. Specifically noted are concerns over the validity of sexuality survey data and the dangers to adolescents of misperceiving risk from non-vaginal sexual activity.


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