New study finds: “virginity pledgers” likely to break promises

A new study I found online demonstrates that young people who take virginity pledges are hardly less likely to have premarital sex than those who do not make such a pledge. And what seems even worse to me, students who make virginity pledges are less likely to have protected sex when they have it… yikes.

Dusting off the cobwebs from my Psychology and Sociology training in college, I can’t seem to find any real weaknesses in the study… it looks to be fairly unbiased, and it certainly makes some good conclusions.

Notably, the study recommends that clinicians should take special precautions when providing birth control information to pledgers.

The results of this study got me thinking about a few things.

First, what is the purpose of those pledges anyway? Or perhaps a better way of framing the question is, who are the pledges actually for? Do you think the pledges are about the youth who make those pledges? Or, do they function as a security blanket for the parents of the youth who make them?

Second, this brings the debate about holistic sex education that some Christians are so vocal about. If you’re unfamiliar with the debate, Google is your friend on this one…

In short, many conservative Christians argue that the only appropriate form of sex ed in schools is “abstinence only.” Abstinence only can take various forms. On the extremely conservative side, some argue that abstinence and only abstinence should be taught as a form of contraception and safe sex. Hence, abstinence is the ‘only’ thing taught. More moderate forms argue that abstinence should be taught as the ‘only’ sure-fire contraceptive and the only form of truly safe sex.

I won’t tip my hand on this debate just yet, because I’m curious what others of you might think – both about the two questions I posed and about the study in general.

Check out the link below to view the article.

Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers — Rosenbaum 123 (1): e110 — Pediatrics

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