Study: 'Virginity Pledges' Are Ineffective

According to a study released earlier today, teenagers who have taken a "virginity pledge" are still just as likely to engage in premarital sex than those who have not pledged their abstinence. But worse than that, the study found that those same abstinence-swearing teenagers are far less likely to use a form of birth control - condoms, etc - when they do become sexually active.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."