A new study reveals teens who pledge to abstain from premarital sex actually lose their virginity around the same time as teens who did not vow to remain virgins. The study released today is consistent with previous studies that have shown teens who pledge their virginity are less likely to use protection than their non-pledging counterparts.
The Johns Hopkins University study reviewed results from a previously collected survey of 11,000 teens. With abstinence-only education on the rise in past years due to Bush administration policy, the efficacy of the program has come under close inspection. According to MSNBC, the issue is particularly weighty now, with President-Elect Barack Obama and the Congress soon to reconsider the $176 million that currently funds abstinence-focused sex ed.
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Those who support teaching abstinence to teens say there's more to the program than just virginity pledges, but critics say teens who don't learn about protection are less likely to use it. The study results released today found 24 percent of teenagers who had pledged said they always used a condom when having sex compared with 34 percent of non-pledge teens who reported consistent condom use.
The way we learn about both the mechanics and the morality of having sex varies greatly in this country, and studies abound as to the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STDs. Should we control what teens watch on TV? Should we take a cue from our European sister states and make sex ed and safe sex messaging both shocking and mandatory? The debate continues.