Finally Some Good News About Virginity Pledges

If you follow the news and the media, you know that when you hear the words “abstinence education” or “virginity pledges” … most likely they are followed with reports of how ineffective they are.

Last week we heard a different story.

Reuters reported about a Rand Corporation study that shows virginity pledges to actually be slightly helpful.

Taking a pledge to remain a virgin until married may help some teens and young adults in delaying the start of sexual activity, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

A study by the Rand Corporation research institute found that 34 percent of youths who took such pledges as teens had had sexual intercourse within three years compared to 42 percent of similar teens who did not make virginity pledges.

The Rand team said they had taken into account differences such as religious beliefs, parenting and friendship characteristics.

If some of you are wondering why we should be excited about a pledge that is only 1/3 effective… I understand your confusion (and frustration). But realize… most reports up to this point have mocked such pledges, concluding that those that take virginity pledges are actually more likely to engage in oral sex, and are more likely to get pregnant (I talked about this before in previous blogs).

But this Rand study (and a recent Alan Guttmacher study) show different.

Some researchers had speculated that teens might substitute other sexual activities such as oral sex for intercourse.

But the Rand study found that those who pledged were no more likely to engage in sexual behaviors that fall short of full intercourse than other comparable youth — findings that fit in with a study by the non-profit Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York last month.

Again… I’m not jumping for joy. If you read what I just read, it says that these kids are “no more likely” than other comparable youth. That just means that those who take these pledges aren’t MORE likely to go to third base since they pledged to not “hit a home run.” Unfortunately they seem to be just as likely to engage in these activities as those who didn’t take the pledges.

But it’s nice to see some data that these pledges aren’t “harmful.” This is the first report I’ve seen in a while that actually showed them to be slightly helpful.

The Reuters article even went on to say…

“Waiting until you are older to have sex is good for teens from a health standpoint,” Martino said in a statement. “There are lots of reasons for more kids to wait until they are older.”

Wow. It’s nice to hear some good new every once in a while.

(thanks to for the article)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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