Skip to comments.Virginity Pledges May Help Postpone Intercourse Among Youth (RAND Corp. Study)
Posted on 07/01/2008 1:19:42 PM PDT by Stoat
June 10, 2008
Virginity Pledges May Help Postpone Intercourse Among Youth
Making a virginity pledge may help some young people postpone the start of sexual activity, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Researchers found that adolescents who made pledges to remain virgins until they are married were less likely to be sexually active over the three-year study period than other youth who were similar to them, but who did not make a virginity pledge, according to the study published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health.
These findings do not suggest that virginity pledges should be a substitute for comprehensive sexual education programs, or that they will work for all kinds of kids said Steven Martino, the studys lead author and a psychologist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. But virginity pledges may be appropriate as one component of an overall sex education effort.
While several previous studies have examined the impact of virginity pledges, the RAND Health study was uniquely designed to account for pre-existing difference between pledgers and non-pledgers on factors such as religiosity, parenting and friendship characteristics. The study tested the impact of virginity pledges by comparing pledgers with young people who had not made a pledge, but shared other characteristics with pledgers.
Researchers surveyed 1,461 adolescent virgins aged 12 to 17 in 2001 and reinterviewed participants one and three years later. About one-fourth of the group reported during the initial survey that they had made a virginity pledge.
Forty-two percent of those who did not make virginity pledges but were otherwise similar to those who did started sexual intercourse within three years, while just 34 percent of those who made virginity pledges reported having sexual intercourse within the same period.
Making a pledge to remain a virgin until married may provide extra motivation to adolescents who want to delay becoming sexually active, Martino said. The act of pledging may create some social pressure or social support that helps them to follow through with their clearly stated public intention.
Some researchers have speculated that abstaining from intercourse might increase participation in other sexual activities, like oral sex. But the RAND study found that those who pledged were no more likely to engage in non-intercourse behaviors than comparable youth who did not take a pledge.
Waiting until you are older to have sex is good for teens from a health standpoint, Martino said. There are lots of reasons for more kids to wait until they are older.
People who delay sex until they are older are less likely to have unintended pregnancies or contract a sexually transmitted disease, and are better equipped emotionally for the experience, according to researchers.
Martino said virginity pledges are unlikely to be a viable means to encouraging all adolescents to delay the initiation of sexual intercourse.
Virginity pledges must be made freely for them to work, Martino said. If young people are coerced or are unduly influenced by peer pressure, virginity pledges are not likely to have a positive effect.
Previous studies have suggested that adolescents who make virginity pledges may be less likely to use condoms during their first act of sexual intercourse. In the RAND study, adolescents who made virginity pledges but eventually had sex did not report lower condom use. But the RAND study only asked participants about condom use in the past year, not whether they used condoms the first time they had sex.
The first virginity pledge program in the United States began in 1993 and now includes hundreds of churches, schools and colleges. Estimates of U.S. adolescents suggest that 23 percent of females and 16 percent of males have made a virginity pledge.
Other authors of the RAND study are Marc N. Elliott, Rebecca L. Collins, David E. Kanouse and Sandra H. Berry. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
RAND Health, a division of RAND, is the nations largest independent health policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health care quality, costs and delivery, among other topics.
Virginity Pledges Among the Willing: Delays in First Intercourse and Consistency of Condom Use
Martino SC, Elliott MN, Collins RL, Kanouse DE, Berry SH. Journal of Adolescent Health, [ePub, June 5, 2008].
We examine longitudinal relationships between virginity pledging in adolescence and both sexual initiation and condom use. Prior studies have had mixed results and may not adequately control for prepledge differences between pledgers and nonpledgers.
Data came from a national sample of 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed in 2001 and reinterviewed 1 and 3 years later. Logistic regression models estimated the association between making a pledge and each outcome. Selection bias was reduced through propensity-score weighting and a rich set of demographic and psychosocial covariates.
Pledgers and nonpledgers differed substantially in preexisting characteristics. However, after propensity weighting and statistical controls, pledging was still associated with delayed intercourse. We estimate that in the absence of pledging 42.4% of virgins with characteristics indicating an inclination to pledge initiate intercourse within 3 years; in the presence of the pledge, 33.6% of such youth initiate intercourse. Among those who had sex during this period, pledging was unassociated with condom use. Among those who did not have sex during this period, pledging was unassociated with engagement in noncoital sexual behavior.
Making a virginity pledge appears to be an effective means of delaying sexual intercourse initiation among those inclined to pledge without influencing other sexual behavior; pledging does not appear to affect sexual safety among pledgers who fail to remain abstinent
Without additional data it's difficult to be sure from the sparse information presented, but I'm thinking that the study's inclusion of people who are not from supportive / religious backgrounds 'may' have reduced the final success figures to a point below what they might have been if the study had included only people from supportive and religious families...in other words, I'm thinking that the success rates may have been significantly higher if only people from a preexisting supportive and religious background had been studied.
Despite the sparse and incomplete nature of the available information, I thought that this might still be of interest to FReepers in that it reinforces what many of us have felt for some time.
Ohhhhhhh ....liberals are not going to like this at all. Seventeen is kind of old for this survey though since some girls get married between 18-20. I wonder if those were removed from the data.
I thought the RAND coproration just did studies on bombs.
The media responds to the survey.
Indeed, that's probably why the study, which is nearly a month old, was not trumpeted in the 'press' as they will do for studies which seem to bolster liberal positions on issues.
I only found out about this because I receive regular email alerts from RAND....I hadn't seen this in the 'press' at all.
There was a time in this nation (and not so long ago) that postponing sex until marriage was an expectation and a reality for many, if not most. Only in recent years with the advent of the “pill”, and liberals controlling entertainment and other media, has the expectation reversed itself. A strong effort has been made by the Left to convince teens and young adults that they are not normal unless they are having unmarried sex. Throw in Planned Parenthood, the sex education fiascos in our schools, liberal parents who want their kids to be cool, etc. and you have the mess that we’re in today. This article has some news worthy of celebrating.
They actually have a pretty wide range of research interests....this page directs you to their "core research areas"
OK, but this is still based on self-reported data with a few bells & whistles from the statistical end. Regression analysis has an error rate. There is no alternative verification for the self reports the subjects made.
Cynic & statistician.
Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.
It’s the devaluing of the family as an institution.
One of the Communist Goals for America.
What was the story the other day?
Christian men make better husbands and fathers? DUH...
They’ll probably do another study and conclude that girls with strong Christian fathers who lead their household are more likely to “postpone intercourse”.
Or, probably not, as this is not something they want widely known.
Agreed on all counts.
This article has some news worthy of celebrating.
I am delighted that you've found it to be worthwhile :-)
Yes, and it naturally raises the question of how many other reputable scientific studies from acclaimed and highly-respected sources they have also 'swept under the rug' merely because they didn't like the conclusions because the results didn't support the Leftist agenda.
If we get back to not letting them date or be unsupervised with boys until they are 16 then the numbers should go even higher. Kind of a parent pledge too. Today..what is there to look forward to at 16...a boyfriend...got one already...dating...been doing that since I was 12...getting married and having children...already got a couple and didn’t even need a husband.
Ever heard the phrase “dating is practice for divorce”?
It has been said that kids that age are nothing “but hormones and nerve endings”. But truthfully, always the biggest impact on their behavior will be from their parents and family. Teachers have a lot less influence than you might think.
However, their peers have a lot more pull. Because the odds are, if and when they want to have sex, or even before they want to have sex, it will be with their peers. And this should send a message to parents that as they influence their children, other parents influence their children as well.
And some of them will influence their children in bad ways.
The way to short circuit this is to be aware of your child’s peers. It doesn’t hurt to encourage some contempt in your child for his peers that are problematic. Often they will emulate your disregard, and think less of these peers as well.
You can steer them away from drug users, the sexually and legally irresponsible, those that drink and smoke. A few anecdotes about losers you knew in school will go a long way.
Also explain “the enemy gun” theory. That is, soldiers in combat often think the enemies gun is better than theirs, because they do not see the effects of their own gun. Children often very falsely assume that their peers live different and much more enjoyable lives.
If you ask high school students, they are of a mind that their peers have regular sex, have lots of parties, drink liquor, do drugs, and generally do all the things that they don’t do, but think they are told they might like to.
In truth, even among senior students, few have had sex more than once. And those few probably began having sex at a very young age, molested by adults they knew. And just a tiny group are in anything like a healthy relationship, with or without sex.
Many of the students that regularly drink and do drugs have serious personal and family problems. While many students drink some and do some drugs, the small number of hardcore users are pretty pitiful.
Finally, point out that some of their peers have “quick fuses”, that they will probably get married right out of high school, have kids for a few years after that, and be middle aged by the time they are 30. Grandparents by 36.
But the vast majority want to have a life before they even consider marriage. A career, some creativity, to live a little, to shop around for a good spouse, not just whoever is handy. They have a slower metabolism, which is normal.
Just knowing things is a big motivator to self control. And that includes the bad things.
..and it's up to the parent/parents...
We didn't allow our daughter to date till 16
..we didn't allow R rated movies...(we took cable out of the home)
..we expected high standards and she met them...
..so did our son.
Sure... the world was all around them... but the home was sacrosanct....a place to unwind, be kids and bring their friends over.
There was a time in this nation (and not so long ago) that postponing sex until marriage was an expectation and a reality for many, if not most.
So true. We can only pray that the pendulum swings back. It would be so nice to see young women treated as treasures once again — by themselves and by young men.
Supervision only goes so far, and when a 17 year old has sports and a job after school and a car, there are many instances where they can get away unsupervised. Plus the goal is for them to be virgins until marriage, and you're not going to supervise them every minute in college now.
My personal experience on the receiving end as a teenage boy only a decade ago is that I was completely unprepared for sexual situations after sitting through youth group talks and even "good" girls have the moral fiber of tissue paper. I needed to hear that part of purity is to keep certain things unmentioned and that far before sex there is a monumental connection that is formed between two people. I needed to hear that whatever action a "big deal" in a relationship is a "big deal" only once, and then it is lost forever. What I got was advice about things that were too far down the road of lusts to be useful when it finally came to pass.
So what about that other study that said those who took such pledges were MORE likely to engage in oral or anal sex? Whom do I believe?
I suppose it's best to evaluate the credibility of the sources, their testing criteria and methodology and mix that in with your own common sense, perspectives, life experience and dedication to logic.
My post though was more about younger teens. There is a big difference between being pregnant at 11 and 17. If they are raised knowing that , you don't care what everyone else does...they aren't....(fill in the blanks) it is easier than if the horse is already out of the barn.
One thing my mom did with me that worked for my boys too was to use a password. If being pressured by peers to do something uncomfortable then the pass word was used to ask permission. Permission was denied...the teen pretended to act offended in front of friends and that was that.
As for college. If you are paying the bills and they aren't living as they should you are under no obligation to finance bad behavior JAT
I remember my teen years well. Back then, the pledge or contract was from SADD or MADD or something. We’d sign a contract promising not to drink and drive and calling a parent if we had. My parents, my Dad especially, cracked up laughing when he saw the contract. We never bothered to fill it out as we didn’t *need* to. My husband also had that SADD or MADD contract and his parents wanted him to sign it and he refused.
My oldest told me they have an after school club that is still involved in this contract underage drinking thing. It’s not as much as a *fad* as it was back when I was in high school.
She also said that her high school doesn’t have this virginity pledge thing but wondered what the point was.
Whom do you believe? None of it, imo. Some teens are gonna have sex and some aren’t. The whole pledge thing is sill to me.
As a mom of 4 girls, we talk about sex here. Well, I do with the two teens.
Sex is fine, it’s great and wonderful and beautiful and a whole lot of fun, imo. I didn’t have sex as a teenager but mostly because pre-marital sex was wrong according to my faith and because I knew as a teen that I wasn’t ready for all that came with it.
My mom taught me that in the heat of passion, that I’d have to decide, use my head, and it worked for me.
As for all the fun stuff that leads to sex, it WAS fun even though it didn’t end up with intercourse in my case until marriage.
I call them hormones with feet :)
Parents are the most influential imo but these aren’t children. They’re teens (and not so long they were considered adults) and they’re going to do whatever they do when it comes to sex. I don’t think teens were having less sex back in the 50s or so or whenever, they just weren’t letting anyone know.
Girls need a different talk than boys do, definitely. They don't seem to need to be as guarded with their urges. Keeping their wits about them is a major part, because girls tend to decide rather than be driven like boys are.
As for all the fun stuff that leads to sex, it WAS fun even though it didnt end up with intercourse in my case until marriage.
Heh, it's a different perspective as a woman. I remember reading Joshua Harris's experience with his soon-to-be wife (not that I approve of Harris's advice), and how she was completely unaware of the challenge it was for him just to be near her on a hammock in a relatively private area. Sometimes I think that the reason why women were taught to be sexually reserved was so that men wouldn't go crazy in a strict society.
Well, they were getting married younger (marriage didn't seem as distant as it does to today's teens), there were a lot less dual-income families without moms at home, and girls dressed more conservatively. That had to have had some effect on teen sex.
Theology of the Body ping!
Books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc.
From book by the same name by Pope John Paul II.
I agree that girls tend to control it all. But, as a woman, the urges are really the same. And those urges were the same back when I was a teen. It certainly wasn’t easy not having sex back when I was a teen or college student.
Not familiar with Joshua Harris... I’ll have to google him.
I agree. It was like females were supposed to reign in the males or something.
As a female, it’s not that easy to control our own desires let alone another’s desire.
One of the things I do recall, is how women weren’t supposed to like sex, when that is so far from the truth. I had family members, aunts, that said sex was all about the guy but fortunately, my mother didn’t see it that way.
I wasn’t interested in sex right before each of my kids were born or right after they were born. Other than those times, sex was always great. And sex isn’t just about one person or the two, sometimes it’s about the other person.Seriously, how hard is it to just satisfy the other person?
Got that right. I did my best to be a "good boy" in high school. I made it to my senior year before being seduced and losing my virginity. I felt so used!
Oh yeah. You were seduced, lol. RME. You had no part in it at all ;)
Girls control it all because they say yes or no. Most teen boys I knew, no was never an option ;)
It's true! I was seduced while trying to be good. You insult me with your condescending "no was never an option" statement. Maybe you hung out with "bad boys." I was so ashamed after I was deflowered by my temptress that I ran away in shame. /sarc
I forgot the "/sarc" last post.
Oh yeah. So, I’m like, so like, more experienced than you? ;)
I did like those bad boys. They were fun :)
I can list the times I could have been seduced, didn’t work til college and my husband. He was able to seduce me ;) I’m sure I played a huge part in it, if not the most important part, lol.
ROTFLMAO, you were “deflowered”?
You don't like "deflowered", how about "soiled?"
Gosh, are you 90? Deflowered, soiled?
I missed the sarc thingie. Bite me.
LOL deflowered? Does anyone say that anymore? ;)
Lighten up, Twink. My humor obviously escapes you. Or you want to pick a fight.
Or maybe your humor is non-existent? ;)
Could it be that one rather than the other two?
Deflowered? Does anyone still say that?
I’m gonna hit the “abuse” button!
More power to ya.
You’re kidding, right?
Don’t know about you but in my world, sex IS good clean wholesome fun ;)