The other day in my sociology of religion class we read an article/study done by a Columbia professor (Peter S. Bearman) entitled “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse.” Its really interesting, but there are two points that I found most enlightening. 1. Virginity Pledges only work in certain social networks – there can’t be too many or too few people pledging to stay abstinent to make the pledge work (i.e. virginity pledges can’t work as a social policy). 2. If in the right situation (with the right amount of people in the social network), then virginity pledges hold off first intercourse for up to 18 months. However, those young adults (or children) who have pledged are more likely to NOT use birth control (condoms, the pill, etc.) their first time than other youth who did not make such a pledge…. So what’s the point of virginity pledges and abstinence only education if it only holds off intercourse for a while but doesn’t promote safe sex practices? Furthermore, these youths who take this pledge may hold off on intercourse but they still engage in anal and oral sex. If they are not taught safe sex methods then they are more open to STIs.
The article is long, but here it is if you want to read.