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Fundies, one more time — virginity pledges are failing

“These programs work…We see it all the time. I don’t trust this data…Things have changed.”

— in-denial Leslee Uhruh, president of the nonprofit National Abstinence Clearinghouse, wailing about a new study out that abstinence/virginity pledges aren’t cutting teen sex

Facts be damned, the bible beaters have their fingers tightly pushed into their ears, their eyes closed, and singing “la la la la la la” as reports come out indicating that teens are engaging in sexual activity despite virginity pledges, silver rings and Jesus head jewelry. (WaPo):

Many abstinence programs have embraced the concept of virginity pledges, encouraging children as young as 9 to promise to wait until marriage to have sex.

So how reliable are reports of sexual activity by teenagers who took such a pledge?

Not very, according to a study by Harvard doctoral candidate Janet Rosenbaum published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Rosenbaum found that 53 percent of adolescents in a large, federally funded study who said they made a virginity pledge denied doing so a year later, often after they had become sexually active.

At the same time, 10 percent of teenagers who said they had had intercourse and then made a pledge or became born-again Christians subsequently said they were virgins.

The WaPo also reported on this in March 2005, again, with data on these virginity pledges touted by head-in-the-sand organizations like True Love Waits and the Silver Ring Thing — they are doing nothing to stop the spread of STDs in young people.

It was found that among the 20 percent of kids that took a virginity pledge, 61 percent of the consistent pledgers and 79 percent of the inconsistent pledgers reported having intercourse before marrying or prior to 2002 interviews. Almost 7 percent of the students who did not make a pledge were diagnosed with an STD, compared with 6.4 percent of the “inconsistent pledgers” and 4.6 percent of the “consistent pledgers.”

But for some of the fundies, stopping STDs isn’t even the point, and they are admitting it. That’s refreshing.

Denny Pattyn, founder of Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical Christian program that has received federal funding, said that about 60,000 youths have made virginity pledges after attending a three-hour sound and light show sponsored by his Pittsburgh-based group. Participants spend $15 for a silver ring inscribed with a Biblical verse — a virginity symbol to be removed on the wearer’s wedding day and given to his or her spouse.

“We teach abstinence because it’s the truth,” said Pattyn. “We don’t analyze ourselves based on reducing the risk.”

Pattyn said that his program assesses its effectiveness in part by sending e-mails to participants for four months after they take a pledge to ask if they are abstinent.

There you have it. La la la la la la…

Silver Ring Thing, by the way, lost its faith-based funds in January after it was found to be in violation of fed regs that prohibit “religious instruction or proselytization.” Up until that point it had received over a million of your tax dollars. In order for the organization to reapply for buxxx, it has to separate its abstinence education from religious education. With above statements like Pattyn’s, it doesn’t sound like there’s been much of a change in “strategy.”

Also:
* Newsflash: fundies are f*cking before marriage
* Abstinence ed is really working: oral sex safe and not really sex, say teens
* Texas teens increasingly knocking boots after abstinence program

Hat tip, Holly

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding