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Study finds virginity pledges may help postpone intercourse among youth
Date:6/10/2008

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 study's 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 p
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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