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Study: Virginity Pledges Don’t Work

Confirming what many have been saying for years, a new survey finds that teenagers who pledge to forgo sexual activity until marriage were just as likely to engage in premarital sex as those who do not. Adolescents who take the pledge are also less likely than their peers to use birth control or condoms when they do have sex, according to the survey results. The study was published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

From Bloomberg:

The pledges, made orally or in writing, are viewed by advocates as buttressing federally funded education programs that say avoiding pre-marital sex rather than using protection will curb pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. President George W. Bush’s administration more than doubled the budget for abstinence-only education programs since 1999 to $204 million this fiscal year. More than a dozen states have rejected federal money rather than limit what is taught.

“The results suggest that the virginity pledge does not change sexual behavior,” wrote author Janet Rosenbaum, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “Clinicians should provide birth control information to all adolescents, especially abstinence-only sex education participants.”

A 2007 congressional study (PDF) found that abstinence-only programs have “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence,” and students who participate in them become sexually active at the same age and have as many partners as students who participate in more comprehensive sex-ed programs. With Democrats set to control the presidency and both houses of Congress, these studies should spell the end for abstinence-only education.

Ironically, that could be good news for conservatives who are honest about their desire to decrease the number of abortions and curb the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.

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