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.
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."
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)