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Old 06-12-2008, 10:19 AM   #1
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Teen Virginity Pledges Work?

TO PLEDGE OR NOT TO PLEDGE?

About a quarter of 1,517 12- to 17-year olds surveyed in 2001 said they had taken a virginity pledge. Percentage who had sex within three years:

Pledgers: 34%
Non-pledgers: 42%

Source: RAND Corp. study


Teen survey shows virginity pledges can work
By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY
Virginity pledges do deter some teens from having sex, according to a study by the RAND Corp. that surveyed teen virgins over three years to see whether they stayed that way.

Of 1,517 adolescents ages 12 to 17 in 2001 when the research began, teenagers who vowed to remain virgins until they were married were less likely to be sexually active than others who didn't make a pledge.

About one-quarter of the adolescents surveyed (23.8%) made a promise to wait until marriage to have sex; 34% had broken it by 2004, compared with 42% of those who didn't make the pledge and had sex during that time.

Those who pledged and those who didn't had similar responses in the telephone survey on questions about their parents' disapproval of sex, their self-esteem, their perceived peer approval of sex and their parental monitoring, among others.

Among those already inclined to delay sexual activity, the pledge may have served as extra protection, says RAND psychologist Steven Martino of Pittsburgh, the study's lead author.

"If it's your intention as a teen to not have sex, it's perhaps a good idea to make a pledge because you're more likely to delay sex if you do so and not more likely to engage in other sexual behaviors as a substitute," he says.

"But that's not to say virginity pledges should substitute for comprehensive sex education, because a majority of teens do have sex, and even among teens who take virginity pledges, many of them have sex," Martino says.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, which supports abstinence-only sex education, disagrees.

"A lot of people would say a virginity pledge is an equivalent to an abstinence education program. It's certainly not," she says. "It's a single event with a personal commitment, but there's often not follow-up.

"We think abstinence education is a natural reinforcement of this personal decision they have made."

The new analysis, published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health in advance of print publication in September, is the latest attempt to determine whether virginity pledges are effective. Some studies suggest they do help postpone first-time sex among teens, and other research suggests they don't. Also, there are questions about how truthful teens are when answering questions about sex.

"There is conflicting data on the worth" of pledges, Martino says.

He says his research took into account characteristics shared between those who made the pledge and those who didn't, so the major difference between them was taking the pledge.

Although virginity pledges appear to make a difference for some teens, Martino says, they probably don't do the same for adolescents overall.

Past research has found that 23% of teenage girls and 16% of boys have made a virginity pledge.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:22 AM   #2
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this still strikes me as a wildly unhealthy way to go about this. akin to "just say no."

why should you just say no?

and this doesn't seem to get to the issue with abstinence-only education. yes, there's some evidence that it delays the age of, erm, "first contact." but that "first contact" does eventually come, it usually comes before marriage, and it is much less likely to involve the use of contraception and protection.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:34 AM   #3
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I think teens should "just say no" if that's what's right for them and it's their personal, well informed, heartfelt decision. My personal opinion is that it's best for teens to postpone it, for several reasons. But they should also be prepared emotionally and health wise and protection wise for anything, and know that a virginity pledge, (and abstinence) is not protection in every aspect.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:42 AM   #4
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I think teens should "just say no" if that's what's right for them and it's their personal, well informed, heartfelt decision. My personal opinion is that it's best for teens to postpone it, for several reasons. But they should also be prepared emotionally and health wise and protection wise for anything, and know that a virginity pledge, (and abstinence) is not protection in every aspect.


i guess what i'm getting at is that i'm a child of the "just say no" anti-drug campaigns (with Nancy Reagan on "Different Strokes" and Punky Brewster amongst the role models telling me not to take drugs) of the 1980s, and i can say that it didn't work. why? because telling people to robotically "just say no" really misses the issue of *why* people take drugs, and it glosses over important distinctions between use and abuse, and the fact that not everyone who takes drugs becomes an addict and dies, and that drug use is more of a health issue than a law-and-order issue.

i see sex in somewhat similar terms. *why* does someone choose to have sex at 14? or 16? or wait until they are married? i think we'd be better served to address these issues than to have someone sign a piece of paper that blackmails them into remaining abstinent (and that provokes a certain attitude of, "well, *this* particular activity won't violate my pledge," sort of like, if you say i can't ride my bicycle on the grass then i'll ride my skateboard on the grass) and then when that pledge is almost inevitably broken, there's probably a huge amount of guilt and shame that follows -- it's basically saying that if you do have sex, if you break your pledge, then you're dirty and shameful and a failure.

and why the focus on virginity? it seems to me that the preservation of virginity, *especially* female virginity, is an example of male tyranny at it's finest. so are children's worth is measured by how "pure" they are? by how abstemious they are? are we going to be checking our daughter's sheets the morning after her wedding to make sure that there's blood on the sheets from a broken hymen? the whole "because you're worth it" attitude makes my skin crawl and it fosters an attitude towards sex that's profoundly unhealthy, imho.

it reminds me nothing so much as this:

[q]In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity
By ELAINE SCIOLINO and SOUAD MEKHENNET

PARIS — The operation in the private clinic off the Champs-Élysées involved one semicircular cut, 10 dissolving stitches and a discounted fee of $2,900.

But for the patient, a 23-year-old French student of Moroccan descent from Montpellier, the 30-minute procedure represented the key to a new life: the illusion of virginity.

Like an increasing number of Muslim women in Europe, she had a hymenoplasty, a restoration of her hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse.

“In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said the student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.”

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Gynecologists say that in the past few years, more Muslim women are seeking certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce tell-tale vaginal bleeding on the wedding night. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive.

“If you’re a Muslim woman growing up in more open societies in Europe, you can easily end up having sex before marriage,” said Dr. Hicham Mouallem, who is based in London and performs the operation. “So if you’re looking to marry a Muslim and don’t want to have problems, you’ll try to recapture your virginity.”

No reliable statistics are available, because the procedure is mostly done in private clinics and in most cases not covered by tax-financed insurance plans.

But hymen repair is talked about so much that it is the subject of a film comedy that opens in Italy this week. “Women’s Hearts,” as the film’s title is translated in English, tells the story of a Moroccan-born woman living in Italy who goes to Casablanca for the operation.

One character jokes that she wants to bring her odometer count back down to “zero.”

“We realized that what we thought was a sporadic practice was actually pretty common,” said Davide Sordella, the film’s director. “These women can live in Italy, adopt our mentality and wear jeans. But in the moments that matter, they don’t always have the strength to go against their culture.”

The issue has been particularly charged in France, where a renewed and fierce debate has occurred about a prejudice that was supposed to have been buried with the country’s sexual revolution 40 years ago: the importance of a woman’s virginity.

The furor followed the revelation two weeks ago that a court in Lille, in northern France, had annulled the 2006 marriage of two French Muslims because the groom found his bride was not the virgin she had claimed to be.

The domestic drama has gripped France. The groom, an unidentified engineer in his 30s, left the nuptial bed and announced to the still partying wedding guests that his bride had lied. She was delivered that night to her parents’ doorstep.

The next day, he approached a lawyer about annulling the marriage. The bride, then a nursing student in her 20s, confessed and agreed to an annulment.

The court ruling did not mention religion. Rather, it cited breach of contract, concluding that the engineer had married her after “she was presented to him as single and chaste.” In secular, republican France, the case touches on several delicate subjects: the intrusion of religion into daily life; the grounds for dissolution of a marriage; and the equality of the sexes. [/q]


/this post is just a broad reaction, not a specific reaction to Mrs. S's post
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:57 AM   #5
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"But that's not to say virginity pledges should substitute for comprehensive sex education, because a majority of teens do have sex, and even among teens who take virginity pledges, many of them have sex," Martino says.

As long as it never becomes a substitute for comprehensive sex education. If people want to wait, wait. But as long as they are doing it because it feels right, not because someone is pushing them to do it. That's my opinion.

However when he says
"If it's your intention as a teen to not have sex, it's perhaps a good idea to make a pledge because you're more likely to delay sex if you do so and not more likely to engage in other sexual behaviors as a substitute,"

That's not necessarily true, I don't believe. In fact, there have been articles done that prove teens are more likely to engage in other forms of sex: oral, anal, etc. if they have taken a virginity pledge. These aren't necessarily a bad side effect, as long as they are being safe about it, but I don't think the purpose of the pledges is to find other ways to have sex that wouldn't be considered "losing your virginity".


There is another phenomenon spreading around the country called "purity balls". Young girls are pledging to their fathers to stay "pure" until marriage. It just rubs me the wrong way that we consistently place women's sexuality in other people's hands...mostly men. I know this doesn't have to do with our original post, but I thought it should be known.

I simply can't get behind this.
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Old 06-12-2008, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsSpringsteen View Post
in the telephone survey

[...]

Also, there are questions about how truthful teens are when answering questions about sex.
As a researcher, that would be my main concern with a study like this. How many of these teens would be completely honest when speaking to a real, live person on the other end of the telephone, especially those within the group that had 'broken their vow'? While you're never going to get a 100% rate of honesty in any study with sensitive subject matter like this, I have to think that the rate with a completely anonymous pencil and paper survey would be higher than a telephone survey.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:57 PM   #7
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[I]"

There is another phenomenon spreading around the country called "purity balls". Young girls are pledging to their fathers to stay "pure" until marriage. It just rubs me the wrong way that we consistently place women's sexuality in other people's hands...mostly men. I know this doesn't have to do with our original post, but I thought it should be known.

I simply can't get behind this.
Purity Ball Colorado Springs | Generations of Light, Randy Wilson
I agree. There's something not right behind this concept. I am a Christian, and I was raised in a typical evangelical house. My church and my family weren't quite as strict as the most notorious funamentalists, but the base conservative rules and traditions were in place, especially those about sex. I'm much more of the emergent church movement now and I disagree with many of the legalistic things I was taught. I haven't lived up to the no premarital sex rule very well, but no one in my family knows that. They'd hit the roof if they did. My dad has never even discussed sex with me and compared with the "purity ball" option, I'm greatful. Granted, I think my parents should keep a watchful eye on the people their kids are in a relationship with, especially during high school years. I think they do need to let their kids know everything sex entails physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and all the risks involved. That being said, teens are teens and when they want to have sex they're going to have sex regardless of the rules or beliefs of their house. The best thing for parent to do is to lay out what the beliefs are about sex in the household and why the parents feel that way. There' s nothing wrong with asking your teenage/college age kids to adapt them as well. However, parents should concede that young adults should control their own body and sexuality and teach them how to protect themselves should they choose to have sex. Girls (or boys) should not have to vow to or make promises to their parents about sex. That's a personal matter that should only be up to the individual (and God, should they be a person of faith) Can you imagine what these girls would likely feel if they did end up having sex before marriage? They would feel guilty for violating the covenant they have with their dads and like a failure for not living up to their pledge. That could easily harm their psyche and damage their perceptions of sexuality for the rest of their lives. The intentions of purity events like this may be good, but sometimes they end up doing more as much harm or more of what they're trying to protect and guard against.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:04 PM   #8
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do parents realize that they are unable to control their children's behavior? especially as one becomes an adult?

this is not to say what parents can't guide, influence, and steer behavior, and hopefully equip their children with the decision making skills, combined with ample exposure to whatever a parent's "values" are. but to actually *control* what a child is going to do or not going to do -- and these super-creepy "purity ball" options are a perfect example -- is impossible.

i'm all for being a virgin until you're married. if that's your thing, go for it. i hope it's rewarding and you draw strength from it.

but don't do it because your dad tells you to.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:21 PM   #9
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How many of these teens would be completely honest when speaking to a real, live person on the other end of the telephone, especially those within the group that had 'broken their vow'?
"To help ensure good service, this call may be recorded..."

How are these 'pledges' generally made? Publically? (and if so in whose presence?)

In general it sounds like the focus of it is all on the negatives (the 'battle' against lust, the stigmatizing of being 'impure', etc.)--which ironically pushes the sexualized aspects of it to the forefront--rather than on the positives (sex as part of the lifelong adventure of sharing your life with someone you love and have committed to). The emphasis seems misplaced.
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The perverse irony there is that what the availability of that surgery really promotes is deceitfulness--either by the woman of her future husband, or by both bride and groom of their families. When the disconnect between what young people are actually doing and the expectations of them are that bluntly extreme, you've got a problem.
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Old 06-12-2008, 01:39 PM   #10
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do parents realize that they are unable to control their children's behavior? especially as one becomes an adult?

this is not to say what parents can't guide, influence, and steer behavior, and hopefully equip their children with the decision making skills, combined with ample exposure to whatever a parent's "values" are. but to actually *control* what a child is going to do or not going to do -- and these super-creepy "purity ball" options are a perfect example -- is impossible.

i'm all for being a virgin until you're married. if that's your thing, go for it. i hope it's rewarding and you draw strength from it.

but don't do it because your dad tells you to.
I agree completely. I applaud people that wait until marriage if that's their adult choice, but to do so under coercion or because you're afraid God will open up the earth to have it swallow you whole, will lead to sexual dysfunction. I hear often about young Christians my age (which is 19) or a bit older getting married. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but the reasoning behind it is often that they got married young, so they wouldn't be tempted to "sin" and have premarital sex. Personally, I think people with that attitude aren't ready for marriage or sex. Marriage is about much more than sex, and signing a piece of paper and repeating some words after a preacher does not mean one has the spiritual, mental, and emotional maturity to handle sex.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:32 PM   #11
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sex is about sex

and marriage is about ?
well, I am no expert on marriage, but from what I hear

marriage is about sleeping on the couch
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Old 06-13-2008, 12:17 AM   #12
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I think that telling teenagers that virginity is a good thing warps their minds.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:43 AM   #13
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I think that telling teenagers that virginity is a good thing warps their minds.
Seriously? Why and how?

That purity ball thing is disturbing. When boys start pledging it to their mothers maybe it will be a bit less disturbing somehow..
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:26 AM   #14
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I genuinely do find this virginity cult disturbing.

I think that it is perpetuating an archaic notion of purity that is invariably aimed more at girls than boys and is deeply tied up to certain religions beliefs.

I think that sex is a part of most peoples human experience, I think that the only way to develop "normally" is with experience.

I think it is healthier to be fooling around when your 14, having sex when your 16 and continuing to have sex the rest of your life than to be watching porn until you get married and not having any frames of reference for intimacy with your long term partner.

Watching footage of proud twenty something virgins really disturbs me. Adults who have been conditioned to hold the ideal of sex as something transcendent but are going to be so disappointed when they realise their first time sucks because they are uncomfortable with sexuality. They are genuine perverts.

Teenagers fooling around with other teenagers is fine if there is a comprehensive sex ed in place with harm minimisation as a keystone element.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:51 AM   #15
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I think that telling teenagers that virginity is a good thing warps their minds.
Personally I feel that, as a teenager growing up in today's society, it becomes increasingly difficult to find your own way to deal with these issues. You are under constant pressure, people are telling you what to do and what not to do, what's good and what's bad. My experience with these issues is that young people are growing into quite an over-sexed society and are kind of coerxed into becoming sexually active at a very young age. They are pressured by their peers and constantly told what's "normal" and what isn't.

On the other hand we have a movement like this (I say WE, even though I'm European and I see the "virginity" movement as an US phenomenon), that is, IMO, also disturbing, because it's putting teenagers under another form of pressure - just in the other direction.

At this age, it's probably difficult enough to find your identity, deal with your body and all that stuff. And I think every person is different in their level of maturity - not only physical, but also emotional, mental, social maturity, so you cannot generalize it. Some may be able to deal with sexuality in a more responsible way than others, some have more self-confidence than others, some make up their own minds, instead of letting others think for them and tell them what's supposed to be right.

Personally, there is an age that I consider to be too young to have sex. I always feel that kids are growing up too fast. They can be adults for the rest of their lives, why do they want to have it all at the age of 14?

Still, I consider campaigns and movements like this are handling the issue the wrong way.
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