Abstinence Researcher Says New Study Bashing Virginity Pledges is Faulty
by Steven Ertelt
December 31, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading researcher into the effectiveness of abstinence education says his own research using the same data shows quite different results from a new study that bashes the quality of virginity pledges.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow on domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation, questions the new study from Johns Hopkins University.
It was really quite extraordinary that you find in this survey that kids who took this very brief exposure to virginity pledges have dramatically better life outcomes compared to kids from the same socio-economic background, Rector told CNS News.
He said it included dramatically lower rates of teen births, abortion rates down, teen sex down, out of wedlock births down, number of sexual partners down a third to a half compared to kids from a similar socio-economic backgrounds."
Rector says the results of research — including the new JHU study — show that youth who come from a religious background have better training and support. He also says the kids who do best don’t necessarily take a virginity pledge but live out one anyway.
Its not an abstinence versus non-abstinence message at all, Rector told CNS News.
Its very clear that these kids that have what I call pro-abstinence, anti-permissive sex attitudes do substantially better in life. They are much more likely to abstain from sex through high school and teens who have abstained from sex through high school are twice as likely to graduate from college," he said.
Rector told the conservative news web site that his own research shows that federal funding for abstinence education programs should be continued.
Other studies back up Rector’s views and put the JHU study at odds with the bulk of the research on abstinence education.
An August 2006 study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found teaching abstinence education to young teenagers in public schools reduces their sexual behavior. The study found that abstinence helped delay the starting point at which teenagers begin having sexual relations.
The Penn researchers studied 662 African-American students in 6th and 7th grade from inner-city schools in Philadelphia.
They found that those who were taught abstinence were less likely to have had sexual relations in a 24 month followup compared to those who were taught about safer sex through the use of condoms but didn’t mention abstinence.
The study also called into question the claims from anti-abstinence advocates that abstinence programs make teens less likely to use condoms when they do start having sex.
"It did not reduce intentions to use condoms, it did not reduce beliefs about the efficacy of condoms, it did not decrease consistent condom use and it did not decrease condom use at last sexual [encounter]," lead author John Jemmott, of the University of Pennsylvania, said.
"There aren’t any studies that show that children are less likely to use condoms as a result of an abstinence intervention. I’ve looked in the literature, there are no studies that show that," Jemmott said.
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