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Creative and Engaging Techniques for Abstinence Education .pdf >>

****Before any discussion of Abstinence

Define Abstinence? – have each student write what they think is the definition of abstinence. List them on the board.
“Abstinence: To abstain means to voluntarily choose not to do something. When referring to sex, it means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation including, but not limited to sexual intercourse. Abstinence is the only 100% effective protection from the possible physical, emotional, mental and social consequences of sex before marriage (Project Reality’s Game Plan).”

• Warm-Ups
1. To get the group to know each other - Ask students to find someone that they do not know and interview them and then introduce them to the group. Have them ask funny questions, for example; Who was your favorite Sesame Street character? What is your greatest phobia? What was your best birthday present? What was your worst vacation? (How to Save Sex for Marriage).
2. Ask the group to help you make a list of the three greatest things about being a guy and a girl and then list the three worst things.
3. Ask the group “What do teens your age need to know?” Can make a list on a board or have students respond anonymously with lists for your question box.

• Ways to Discuss Differences between Sex/Sexuality

1. What is Sex? - Most teens answer: doing it, body parts, something you do behind closed doors, taboo, a physical act. There are, however, three answers to this question. Help teens differentiate between sex as gender, sexuality and sexual intercourse.
Ask, “What do they ask you when you fill out an application for a learner’s permit? Name, Address, Sex. Teens are surprised by the answer, “Yes, we all have ‘sex’ because we are male and female.” This provides a good lead-in to the discussion of what sexuality includes (“Chastity is for Everyone” audiotape Family Honor Inc.).

2. What is a sexual person?

The “SPICE” Flower can be used to help people see the multiple dimensions that make up a “wholly sexual person.” Each letter in the word SPICE represents a different aspect.

SPICE (each petal of the
flower has a letter)

S - spiritual
P - physical
I - intellectual
C - creative
E - emotional

The SPICE flower reminds us to develop all of our parts and balance them. Get each part to be the best it can be as you develop yourself as a whole person. When you develop yourself in your wholeness, you invite people to love you in that wholeness and not to just love what they see. You look at other people, not for what you see or what you get, but for their totality. Balance all the petals. (“Chastity is for Everyone” audiotape Family Honor Inc.).

• Ways to Discuss Abstinence

1. Interesting Comparison - “Drug free school zone” - teaches teens to say “No” to smoking, drugs and alcohol. Why don’t they also teach, “Just say no to sex”? “Are they saying that teens can’t control themselves?”

2. Animal Comparison - Are we like animals - go into heat and can’t control ourselves? Need to be neutered or spayed? “Where is John?” “Oh he can’t come out, because he is in heat” (Molly Kelly).

3. The Beautiful Package - Think of sexuality as a beautiful gift that is wrapped up in the most wonderful paper and ribbons. It has a gift tag and the tag says, “Don’t open until marriage” (Molly Kelly).

4. “Driving a Car” - The power of sexuality is compared to the power that is yours when you are behind the wheel of a car. “When driving, you are capable of doing a lot of good - taking someone to the hospital or doing errands - going to a basketball game or on a trip to an exciting place. But you must drive responsibly because you are also capable of doing real harm to someone or to yourself, even without meaning to (Our Power to Love - Family Honor Inc.”

5. CD Comparison – If you had a choice which would you prefer, an old CD that has been passed around or a new one. (Pattie Hamilton, Archbishop Carroll High School)

6. Video Tape Comparison – If you had a new VCR, would you want to use new videos or would you use previously rented ones that could damage the VCR heads (Natalene Roddy, St. Michaels, MD).

7. Left Over Food – if the line is long at Mc Donalds and someone has left half of their fries and hamburger on a table, would you eat it? Why don’t we have the same concern for things that we watch and put permanently into our “memory bank.”

8. “Fire” - Chastity has been described as disciplined warmth. Fire can either warm us or burn us depending on how you deal with the flame.

9. “Getting a Sports Utility Vehicle” Two high school students ask for an SUV. One family buys their son the SUV. The other family says, “We’d love to but we don’t have the money. You’ll have to save to get it on your own.” He works for a long time to save his money. Who will take better care of the SUV and appreciate it the most? (From David, Montgomery County Health Dept.)

10 “Training for a 100 Yard Dash vs. Training for a Marathon” - Preparing for the commitment of marriage has been compared to training for a marathon - aiming for both requires discipline and hard work. You will never succeed in a marathon if you do not prepare for the race the correct way. Someone who runs as if in a 100-Yard dash will never finish a marathon. (From David, Montgomery County Health Dept.)

11. Difference between girls and boys – Girls false sense of security, “I’m not like my boyfriend, I can stop any time I want to.” Boys are affected by what they see while girls are affected by touch. If touching begins, God’s protection can quickly be lost.

12. Momentum – “How far can you go?” If you don’t slow down, you may not be able to stop. Ex. Car going so fast that it can’t stop in time.

13. “Stop Signs” - Do you know where you should stop? If you don’t, you are going to go through; for example, petting, removing clothing, touching where you know you shouldn’t be touching. Set up “Stop Signs” in your life (Molly Kelly).

14. Cohabitation – Couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who do not. The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent but if the couple cohabitated before the marriage, the rate was 49 percent (CDC, 2002). Waiting for marriage makes a difference.

• Negative Issues Associated With Early Dating
Age when dating begins (% Who Have Sex Before Graduation) - 12 yrs (91%), 13 yrs (56%), 14 yrs (53%), 15 yrs (40%), 16 yrs (20%). (How to Save Sex for Marriage).

• Dealing With Statistics - help students become sensitive to the use and misuse of the statistics they read or hear about.

1. “There are three kinds of lies, white lies, black lies and statistics.”
paraphrase of Mark Twain

2. “Statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is interesting but what they cover up
is vital” by Dr. James J. O’Connell, economist.

3. Source of Statistics? Ask students to come up with headlines for the same story
as they would appear in the Wall Street Journal, or USA Today and The NY Enquirer.
Ask if they think the same survey would have the same results if you asked readers of
the Journal of the American Medical Association, Time, Cosmopolitan, or Playboy.

4. Share an interesting research study -
“It has been proven that if you want your boyfriend to be smart, have a great
job and make a lot of money, buy him a tuxedo. Research has shown that
men who own tuxedos are smarter, have better jobs and make more money.”
Shared by Sr. Maria Salerno of the Catholic University of America School of Nursing
to help students differentiate between a statistical relationship and cause and effect.

Project Reality - A. C. Green’s Game Plan Abstinence Program (available in Spanish) 847-729-3298 or

Family Honor Inc. Chastity is for Everyone (audiotape) and Our Power to Love (

How to Save Sex for Marriage: A Family Workshop is part of the Project Genesis Series published by Leaflet Missal Company, St. Paul, Minnesota 1-800-328-9582

Mary Lee O’Connell, CRNP
August 2005