Teenagers who took virginity pledges had sex at around the same age, and had the same number of sexual partners, as demographically similar teens who did not take such pledges, according to a study published this month in Pediatrics.
The teenagers who had pledged to remain sexually abstinent until marriage were less likely, however, than their nonpledging counterparts to use birth control and condoms, said the report’s author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum, a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.
Ms. Rosenbaum compared 289 teenagers who had taken virginity pledges with 645 teens who did not taken such pledges but were otherwise similar in religiosity, attitudes towards sex, marriage expectations, and other factors.
Ms. Rosenbaum said her results suggest that “virginity pledges are not a marker for less sexual activity.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 07, 2009 edition of Education Week