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Study: Many
youths disregard virginity pledges

Study: Many
youths disregard virginity pledges

More than half making virginity pledges have sex within one year.

Although supporters of abstinence programs say virginity pledges by teenagers are effective in keeping young people from having sex, a new study by Harvard University scientists shows that 52% of teens who had signed such pledges had sex within one year of making them, the Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers analyzed survey data from the government-sponsored National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which includes responses from 14,000 12- to 18-year-olds who had signed virginity pledges. They discovered that more than half had sex within one year of pledging to remain virgins until marriage. On follow-up interviews, nearly three quarters of the young people who had sex despite having signed virginity pledges denied ever having made such a pledge, according to the study, which is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Abstinence supporters dispute the Harvard study's findings and continue to claim that virginity pledges are effective. "Those who make virginity pledges have shown greater resolve to save sex for marriage," Janice Crouse of the right-wing, antigay group Concerned Women for America told the Times. "This study is in direct contradiction with trends we have been seeing in recent years."

Virginity pledges were introduced in the early 1990s by the Christian Sex Education Project and quickly gained popularity among many other abstinence groups since then. Officials estimate that about 2.5 million U.S. teenagers have signed virginity pledges. (The Advocate)

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