The study also found that teens who took a virginity pledge were 10 percent less likely to use a condom and less likely to use any other form of birth control than their non-pledging counterparts.
"Sex education programs for teens who take pledges tend to be very negative and inaccurate about condom and birth control information," Rosenbaum said.
The study also found that, five years after taking a virginity pledge, more than 80 percent of pledgers denied ever making such a promise. "This high rate of disaffiliation may imply that nearly all virginity pledgers view pledges as nonbinding," Rosenbaum said.
She said teens who are religious tend to delay having sex, but that has nothing to do with virginity pledges or abstinence-only sex education programs.
Bill Albert, chief program officer for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said teens need to be encouraged to delay having sex, but they also need to be given the facts about safe sex.
"When pledgers fell off the wagon, they fell off hard," he said. "What have we gained if we encourage young people only to delay sex until they are older, but when they do become sexually active, they don't protect themselves or their partners?"
"The notion that it has to be either a virginity pledge or encouraging teens to have sex is a false dichotomy," Albert added. "There is a public consensus in this country to encourage teens to delay sex, but also provide them with information about contraception."
For more on teens and sexuality, visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
SOURCES: Janet E. Rosenbaum, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore; Bill Albert, chief program officer, The National Campaign to Prevent
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