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

ledging 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.


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

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