Virginity Pledges Help Delay Sex
Special Report - June 13, 2008
Teens who make a pledge to abstain from sexual activity until marriage are more likely than similar teens who do not to postpone sexual activity, according to a new study released June 10 by the Rand Corporation. The study, which is published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health, features the results from a survey of 1,461 adolescent virgins between the ages of 12 and 17 over a three-year period that began in 2001. One-fourth of the teens in the survey had taken a virginity pledge at the beginning of the study period.
According to the findings, “adolescents who made pledges to remain virgins until they are married were less likely to be sexually active over the three-year study period than other youth who were similar to them, but who did not make a virginity pledge.” Specifically, 42 percent of the non-pledging teens had become sexually active during the three-year period, compared to only 34 percent of the pledging teens.
“Making a pledge to remain a virgin until married may provide extra motivation to adolescents who want to delay becoming sexually active,” said Steven Martino, the study’s lead author and a Rand psychologist, in a press release. “The act of pledging may create some social pressure or social support that helps them to follow through with their clearly stated public intention.”
Martino added, “Waiting until you are older to have sex is good for teens from a health standpoint.”
A 2005 study by The Heritage Foundation found that “taking a virginity pledge is associated with a broad array of positive outcomes” for teenagers, such as having a reduced number of sexual partners, and being less likely to engage in sexual activity in high school, have a child out-of-wedlock, or engage in non-marital sex as adults.
The Southern Baptist Convention started the first virginity pledge program, True Love Waits, in 1993, and since then, millions of young people have participated in similar programs across the United States. According to Rand, it is estimated that 23 percent of adolescent girls and 16 percent of adolescent boys in the U.S. have made a virginity pledge.
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