Virginity Pledge

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the Virginity Pledge.

Virginity Pledges

Abstinence
Abstinence Failure
Virginity Pledges Can't Be Taken on Faith
Recent Findings from The 'Add Health' Survey: Teens and Sexual Activity
Chastity Pledge does not reduce STD rate
Is Signing an Abstinence Pledge a Guarantee of no STDs
Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges


Virginity is okay. Being sexual is okay, too. Be sure the first time is the right time.

Virginity Pledges


One finding from the Add Health survey immediately seized upon by the popular press is that some students who took a virginity pledge promising to abstain from sex until marriage were less likely than students who did not take a pledge to become sexually active. According to a study published this year in the American Journal of Sociology, the pledge was found to delay intercourse by an average of 18 months. However, the pledge had some significant limitations—it worked best among 15-17-year-olds, with no effect among older teenagers, and had an impact only within certain ethnic groups.

In addition, virginity pledges were found to work only in those school contexts in which the pledge essentially constitutes minority group behavior. In fact, as the proportion of students who pledge rises, the effectiveness of pledging decreases. In other words, students are attracted to virginity pledges precisely because they offer them a shared group identity that sets them apart from their peers—a counterculture of sorts—that loses its allure once it becomes normative. Say authors Peter S. Bearman and Hannah Bruckner, "if most adolescents were to pledge, there would be no pledge effect." As a result, virginity pledges "cannot work as a universal strategy" and "policy makers should recognize that the pledge works because not everyone is pledging." Michael D. Resnick, also of the Center for Adolescent Health and Development at the University of Minnesota and a lead Add Health researcher, reiterates that "while the effect of virginity pledges is real, virginity pledges are not an immunization which work in every context. Policymakers would be wrong to think that virginity pledges will have a magical effect on kids' behaviors. Pledges work only for those young people who identify with this norm. If you make it mandatory, kids will fight it."

Virginity pledges also have an unintended effect that should be of concern to researchers and policymakers alike: They actually place some teenagers at higher risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD), because teens who break their pledge are one-third less likely than non-pledgers to use contraceptives once they do become sexually active. Write authors Bearman and Bruckner, "pledgers are less likely to be prepared for an experience they have promised to forego." So before policymakers rush to embrace virginity pledges as the answer to teenage sexual activity, they should heed Bearman and Bruckner's suggestion "that pledgers, like other adolescents, may benefit from knowledge about contraception and pregnancy risk, even if it appears at the time that they do not need such knowledge."

Researchers emphasize that discussions about birth control do not cause teens to have sex.

At least two studies using Add Health data explore how discussions about sex and contraception between mothers and teenage children—as well as teens' perceptions of these discussions—may influence adolescent sexual behavior. One of these studies, published last year in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that teenagers in grades 8-11 who perceive that their mother disapproves of their engaging in sexual intercourse are more likely than their peers to delay sexual activity. And perhaps not surprisingly, teenagers who are more connected to their mothers are more likely to accurately perceive maternal disapproval of sex. But when mothers recommend specific methods of birth control, teens are less likely to perceive strong maternal disapproval of sex. Researchers working in this area emphasize that discussions about birth control do not cause teens to have sex, but may instead be temporally related to the onset of sexual activity. "What we suspect," explains author Clea S. McNeely, from the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health at the University of Minnesota "is that mothers increase their discussions about birth control and sexual activity when they sense that their teenagers are sexually active or about to become sexually active."

Another study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health explored the equally complex area of perceived maternal approval of contraception. Teenagers in grades 7-11 who perceived that their mother disapproved of contraception were more likely to delay sexual activity. But these teens were also less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active. This latter finding is particularly crucial, notes Resnick, because one factor that most closely predicts whether or not a teen has experienced a pregnancy is whether or not that teen used contraception the first and last times he or she had sexual intercourse. And, of course, unprotected sex increases a teen's risk of contracting an STD.
Source: By Cynthia Dailard, www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/04/4/gr040401.html

Virginity Pledges Can't Be Taken on Faith


Many abstinence programs have embraced the concept of virginity pledges, encouraging children as young as 9 to promise to wait until marriage to have sex.

So how reliable are reports of sexual activity by teenagers who took such a pledge?

Not very, according to a study by Harvard doctoral candidate Janet Rosenbaum published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Rosenbaum found that 53 percent of adolescents in a large, federally funded study who said they made a virginity pledge denied doing so a year later, often after they had become sexually active.

At the same time, 10 percent of teenagers who said they had had intercourse and then made a pledge or became born-again Christians subsequently said they were virgins.

Rosenbaum's study is based on an analysis of 1995 and 1996 data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which involved more than 13,000 teenagers in grades 7 to 12. At the time virginity pledge programs, many of them sponsored by evangelical Christian groups, were proliferating as a way to combat teenage sex, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and perceived moral decay.

Rosenbaum said her study shows that efforts to evaluate such programs' effectiveness is complicated by teenagers' reports of behavior that may be influenced by religious or social factors. "Whatever environment you're in, you're more likely to conform," Rosenbaum said.

Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, agreed. "This study confirms that when people are asked about sensitive behavior, you have to take their answers with a grain of salt."

"What's interesting is that it showed changes over time and tried to tease out what might lead to those changes," she added.

Previous studies have found that teenagers who make pledges contract STDs at nearly the same rate as those who don't, but that they have fewer sexual partners, are less likely to use condoms and more likely to engage in anal or oral sex.

Leslee Uhruh, president of the nonprofit National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., called Rosenbaum's study "junk science."

"These programs work," said Unruh, calling the study a "politically motivated attack" on pledge programs. "We see it all the time. I don't trust this data," she said, noting that the information that Rosenbaum used was collected 10 years ago. "Things have changed."

Denny Pattyn, founder of Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical Christian program that has received federal funding, said that about 60,000 youths have made virginity pledges after attending a three-hour sound and light show sponsored by his Pittsburgh-based group. Participants spend $15 for a silver ring inscribed with a Biblical verse -- a virginity symbol to be removed on the wearer's wedding day and given to his or her spouse.

"We teach abstinence because it's the truth," said Pattyn. "We don't analyze ourselves based on reducing the risk."

Pattyn said that his program assesses its effectiveness in part by sending e-mails to participants for four months after they take a pledge to ask if they are abstinent.

The group is about to launch a study of its long-term effectiveness, according to researcher Paul Kennedy. Kennedy said an online survey he conducted in March involving 2,500 youths who attended Silver Ring Thing found that 97 percent of attendees reported having an improved understanding of the benefits of abstinence and an awareness that oral sex does not eliminate the risk of contracting an STD.

Like other pledge programs, Silver Ring Thing leaders endorse the concept of "secondary virginity," which means that a teenager who is not a virgin can start fresh by taking an abstinence pledge. That notion, Rosenbaum suggested, might cause some teens to discount previous intercourse as experimentation not worth reporting to researchers, thereby complicating accurate evaluation of pledge programs.

To Columbia University sociology professor Peter S. Bearman, who has published several studies on the effectiveness of virginity pledges, Rosenbaum's findings are not surprising.

"Study after study that's peer-reviewed has showed that these programs make no appreciable impact on public health, and increase dangerous behavior" because pledge-takers are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, Bearman said. "Pledging leads to a form of promise-breaking that's riskier." ·
Source: Sandra G. Boodman, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051500842.html

Virginity Pledges


Surprise, most teens do not keep virginity pledges! According to another recent article in the Washington Post, teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don't make such promises, but they are less likely to use condoms and birth control to prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.

The latest research to document this phenomenon was published in the January 2009 issue of Pediatrics and reflected results from 934 high school students. Dr. Janet Rosenbaum, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health matched students who had taken a virginity pledge with those who had not and after five years found no difference between the groups on how many had participated in oral, anal, or vaginal sex before marriage. The groups had the same average number of sex partners and had started having sex at the same age.

So, when will abstinence-only education be dismantled? How many of these articles have to be published before schools, parents and politicians agree that teens should be encouraged to delay sexual activity but also need to be well-educated about the importance of preventing sexually transmitted infection and early pregnancy?
Source: www.healthline.com/health-blogs/teen-health-411/virginity-pledges

Many Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges


Surprise, most teens do not keep virginity pledges! According to another recent article in the Washington Post , teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teen who don't make such promises, but they are less likely to use condoms and birth control to prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy. i.e. Bristol Palin.

The latest research to document this phenomenon was published in the January 2009 issue of Pediatrics and reflected results from 934 high school students. Dr. Janet Rosenbaum, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health matched students who had taken a virginity pledge with those who had not and after five years found no difference between the groups on how many had participated in oral, anal, or vaginal sex before marriage. The groups had the same average number of sex partners and had started having sex at the same age.

So, when will abstinence-only education be dismantled? How many of these articles have to be published before schools, parents and politicians agree that teens should be encouraged to delay sexual activity but also need to be well-educated about the importance of preventing sexually transmitted infection and early pregnancy?
Source: www.healthline.com/blogs/teen_health/2009/01/virginity-pledges.html

Recent Findings from The 'Add Health' Survey: Teens and Sexual Activity


The first generation of research findings is emerging from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally funded, multimillion-dollar, school-based study designed to identify and assess the various factors that place adolescents at risk for a host of potentially health-compromising behaviors ranging from eating disorders to vehicular safety to early sexual activity. These studies and future research using "Add Health" data promise not only to help parents, communities and policymakers understand the factors that protect against or promote risky behavior among adolescents but also to point toward interventions that will ultimately improve the overall health of teenagers and, over time, the population at large ("The 'Add Health' Survey: Origins, Purposes and Design," TGR, June 2001).

At least half a dozen published reports and peer-reviewed journal articles based on Add Health data are beginning to shed light on the range of "risk" and "protective" factors associated with the politically sensitive area of teenage sexual activity, including the roles of virginity pledges and parent-child communication (see box). While some of these early findings have been seized upon by the popular press and by conservative interest groups looking to promote their ideology, they may ultimately provide more guidance to parents than to policymakers on how to help teens postpone sexual activity.

What Puts Teens at Risk?

One of the key purposes of the Add Health survey is not only to determine the prevalence of sexual intercourse—as well as a host of other potentially health-compromising behaviors—among teenagers but also to assess the various factors that place adolescents at risk for such activity. And as one would expect, results from the Add Health survey show that teens' reports of ever having had sexual intercourse increase dramatically with grade level, from 16% among seventh and eighth graders to 60% among eleventh and twelfth graders. Additionally, the Add Health survey reaffirms the findings of a large body of existing research that teenagers who are black or from low-income or single-parent families are more likely to have had sexual intercourse than their peers.

Early Add Health findings may provide more guidance to parents than to policymakers on how to help teens postpone sexual activity.

But one of the Add Health survey's greatest strengths is that it is designed to help researchers go beyond these demographic descriptions to identify the underlying social mechanisms that influence teen behavior. In other words, the survey aims to help researchers identify the forces within a community, family, school or peer group—as well as innate characteristics—that, alone or in combination, predispose a teen to high-risk activities and to analyze how these influences are expressed in different ways within various subgroups of teens. And, indeed, studies using Add Health data show that demographic factors play only a minor role in explaining teenage sexual activity and that there is tremendous variance—or heterogenity—even within individual racial, ethnic and income groups.

In fact, the research emerging from the Add Health survey strongly indicates that whether or not a teenager has ever had sexual intercourse is largely explained by that individual's own sexual history and his or her own perceptions about the costs and benefits of having sex. This stands in stark contrast to other major risk behaviors—such as cigarette smoking, drug and alcohol use, weapons-related violence, and suicidal thoughts and attempts—which the data indicate are shaped by more generic or external factors, such as frequent problems with school or work, frequency of "just hanging out with friends" and the number of friends who regularly smoke or drink. According to a major report published last year on teen risk behavior, Protecting Teens: Beyond Race, Income and Family Structure, when it comes to sexual intercourse, the most important risk factor across all racial and ethnic groups was having been in a romantic relationship within the previous 18 months, followed by (for most subgroups) "ever [having] kissed or necked." The most powerful "protective" factors for most subgroups were the perceived personal and social costs of having sex or getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy.

Robert W. Blum of the Center for Adolescent Health and Development at the University of Minnesota, and the author of Protecting Teens, explains that "sex doesn't really fit in with the other risky behaviors" that he and his colleagues examined using Add Health data. "While we tend as a society to lump sexual activity together with other risk factors, it is fundamentally different than drug use or weapon carrying—behaviors we hope to prevent altogether. In contrast, sexual activity is a normative behavior which we merely seek to delay rather than prevent. As a result, we need to remove it from this collective framework."

Messages for Parents and Policy
Researchers analyzing Add Health data are only beginning to understand the various factors that place teens at risk for and protect against teenage sexual activity and how these factors interact. And it may be that aside from the findings on virginity pledges, which are basically cautionary, the research thus far has less direct relevance for policymakers than it does for parents, because it speaks to the quality of parenting and parent-child communication. Resnick sums up the various Add Health findings this way: "You can look at all sorts of variables related to sex, but the most powerful predictor is whether teens have been in a romantic relationship for more than 18 months. This suggests several things. Parents can discourage heavy one-on-one dating and emphasize going out in groups. They should attend to issues like the age at which kids start dating and the age difference between partners." This is particularly important from the perspective of teenage pregnancy and STD prevention, given the findings of a study published this year in Family Planning Perspectives based on Add Health data that shows that younger adolescents who are sexually active, as well as adolescents involved with partners who are more than two years older or attend a different school, are less likely to use contraception than their peers.

McNeely concurs: "What Add Health does tell us—whether we are politically on the left or the right—is that parents should focus on the appropriate supervision and monitoring of their teens. They should meet boyfriends and girlfriends, get to know their teens' friends, and always know where their children are. They should establish a warm and caring relationship with their children and foster age-appropriate autonomy and independence. Ultimately, good parenting is more important than the specific content of the communication about sex. For me, that's the bottom line."
Source: www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/04/4/gr040401.html

Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges


According to a study released March 9, 2004 at the National STD Prevention Conference, 88% of 12,000 teenagers who had pledged to remain abstinent until marriage reported having had sexual intercourse before they married. "Pledgers" also had STD infection rates comparable to their peers who did not take virginity pledges. Although they delayed intercourse for up to 18 months, when they became sexually active, teenagers who had signed pledges were less likely to use condoms and less likely to seek medical help for STD infections than their peers.

Click here for the latest teenage pregnancy statistics www.guttmacher.org/pubs/state_pregnancy_trends.pdf

Click here for new data on the incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among American youth www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2004/02/24/index.html

For the latest research and analysis on sex education in the U.S., www.guttmacher.org/presentations/sex_ed.pdf

For more information on federal funding for sex education in the U.S. www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/gr050101.html

For more information on abstinence as a contraceptive and STD prevention method www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/gr060504.html

Is Signing an Abstinence Pledge a Guarantee of no STDs?


This is a tricky question. Statistics show that those who sign a pledge actually have a higher STD rate than those who don't. The problem arises in two areas.

1. Too often individuals who sign the pledge have the best intentions so they don't learn any more about safe sex.

2. Many of these people break the pledge in the heat of the moment and are unknowledgable or unprepared to protect themselves and acquire an STD in many of these circumstances.

We support those who choose to sign a pledge of abstinence. We don't support programs, however, that want to keep them in the dark about sex, safe sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. The odds just aren't that good.

Chastity Pledge does not reduce STD rate


Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage catch sexually transmitted diseases about as often as those who don't vow abstinence, find a study that examined the sex lives of 12,000 adolescents. Those who make the public pledge to abstain until marriage delay sex, have fewer sex partners and get married earlier, according to the data, gathered from teens ages 12 to 18 who were questioned again six years later. But the two groups' STD rates were statistically similar. One of the problems, researchers find, is that virginity "pledgers" are less likely to use condoms. "It's difficult to simultaneously prepare for sex and say you're not to have sex," says sociologist Peter Bearman of Columbia University, co-author of the study. "The message is really simple: 'Just say no' may work in the short term but doesn't work in the long term." The study was presented at the National STD Prevention Conference in Philadelphia.
Source: U.S. Today, 3/10/04.

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