Virginity pledges fail

This is a great example of how totally ineffective it is to try to make people good by making them simply follow certain rules or courses of action, without ever breeding good character in them.

Originally from the Journal of Pediatrics:

“Researchers say the federal government spends about $200 million annually on abstinence promotion programs, which include virginity pledges. Two previous studies have suggested that virginity pledges can delay sex, but researchers say those studies did not account for pre-existing differences between pledgers and non-pledgers.

In this study, researchers compared the sexual behavior of 289 teenagers who reported taking a virginity pledge in a 1996 national survey to 645 non-pledgers who were matched on more than 100 factors, such as religious beliefs and attitudes toward sex and birth control.

The results showed that five years after taking the virginity pledge:

  • 82% of pledgers denied ever having taken the pledge.
  • Pledgers and matched non-pledgers did not differ in rates of premarital sex, sexually transmitted disease, and oral and anal sex behaviors.
  • Pledgers had 0.1 fewer sexual partners in the past year but did not differ from non-pledgers in the number of lifetime sexual partners and the age of first sex.

The biggest difference between the two groups came in the area of condom and birth control use. The study showed that fewer pledgers used birth control or condoms in the past year or any form of birth control the last time they had sex.

Researcher Janet Elise Rosenbaum, PHD, of Harvard University, says the findings suggest that health care providers should provide birth control information to all teenagers, especially virginity pledgers.”

If (sneakily) forcing children to pledge abstinence doesn’t lead them to right living, the better option (aside from chastity belts) is to get them to genuinely value sexual temperance (or whatever) for good, sound reasons, and to breed in them the strength to follow their convictions when it’s difficult. These things are obviously part of good character, but you’d never know it by how people raise their children. Kids have rules and consequences barfed at them tirelessly without ever hearing a good reason for following them. Bah.

You can read the full article here.

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