True Love Actually Does Wait, Study Finds

More on teens and abstinence, and other stories from the mainstream media in the U.S. and abroad

Abstinence pledges work, survey shows Teens who take public pledges to remain virgins wait about 18 months longer to have sex than those who don't, says a new study published in the American Journal of Sociology. "Adolescents who pledge are much less likely than adolescents who do not pledge to have intercourse," wrote Peter S. Bearman of Columbia University and Hannah Bruckner of Yale University, the authors of the 63-page report. "The delay effect is substantial and robust. Pledging delays intercourse for a long time. In this sense, the pledge works." It works, the scholars say, because taking such a public stand for virginity helps to give teens a sense of identity and community. So, unfortunately, if a school's students overwhelmingly take pledges for virginity (more than 30 percent, says the study), the effect diminishes dramatically. The results come from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which surveyed about 90,000 American teens and found that by 1995 about 10 percent of teen boys and 16 percent of teen girls have taken virginity pledges—that's about 2.5 million teens. "We put the question in the original questionnaire with a smile," the University of North Carolina's J. Richard Udry, who helped design the survey, tells Canada's National Post. "We were cynical about the likelihood that the pledge would produce [significant results]. But we were wrong." One interesting sidenote: one would think that more religious kids would be more likely to make such virginity pledges—and that they'd be less likely to engage in sex anyway. But Bearman tells the Associated Press that pledges still work: "The more religious kids pledge, as do kids who are more oriented toward school. Those are protective effects ...

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March
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