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October 2021

Sexual abstinence at age 21 in New Zealand: the importance of religion

Author(s): Fitzjohn, J., EberhartPhillips, J., Herbison, P., Dickson, N.

Journal/Book: Soc Sci Med. 2000; 51: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 1-10.

Abstract: Most research on adolescent sexual behaviour has focused on early initiation and consequent risks. We have instead examined the circumstances of young people who have not had sexual intercourse before age 21, in order to throw light on the ways in which young people might resist societal pressures for early sexual intercourse. The sample was a cohort born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972/73, formed at age 3, and followed with regular assessments of personal, family and educational functioning to age 21. At age 18 and 21 information on sexual behaviour was collected, using a computer presented questionnaire. The response rate at age 21 was 935/1020 (91.7%) of the survivors of the original cohort. Overall 11.3% of the men and 8.1% of the women reported never having sexual intercourse. Sex with a man was reported by 20 men (4.5%), of whom only two reported having sex only with men. Being first born and being persistently involved in religious activities, measured at both 11 years and 21 years, were significant predictors of abstinence for both sexes. Examination of perceptions of an ideal lifestyle, sexual behaviour and religious involvement showed that religion was an important factor in decisions to delay sexual intercourse past age 20, especially for men. It would be helpful to examine further the features of moral decision making which are characteristic of religious experiences. Ail rights reserved.

Note: Article Paul C, Univ Otago, Sch Med, Dept Prevent & Social Med, POB 913, Dunedin, NEW ZEALAND

Keyword(s): adolescence; religion; sex behaviour; abstinence; homosexuality; New Zealand; BEHAVIOR; ATTITUDES

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