Remember those public pledges that millions of teen-agers made to remain celibate until marriage a few years back? It turns out that a lot of them did — at least for awhile. „We didn‘t expect to see any effect from these pledges, but it was just the opposite,“ Dr. Peter Bearman, a sociology professor at Columbia University and lead author of a study on the issue. Making such a pledge was most effective for 16- and 17-year-olds, Bearman and his colleagues found. Virginity pledges had no effect among those 18 or older, and the effect on younger participants was variable. The average delay among pledgers is 18 months. Bearman and co-author Hannah Brueckner, a sociologist at Yale University, analyzed data from interviews of 20,000 teen-age virgins in 1994 and 1995 through a federally-funded survey of children in grades 7 through 12. Follow-up interviews were done in 1997 with 14,000 individuals.
Bearman and his colleagues estimated that close to 10 percent of adolescent boys and 16 percent of girls have taken virginity pledges.
Abstinence-based sex education programs have gained in strength in recent years, with nearly $100 million in federal and state funds supporting chastity education and the consequences of sex. Statistics show that more than half of teen-agers remain virginal until at least age 17. By the age of 20, 76 percent of women, and 80 percent of men have had sex. Only 6.9 percent of men and 21 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 59 wait until their wedding night for the experience. As the debate continues, it is interesting to note that Bearman‘s study found a negative correlation between abstinence pledges and actual abstinence when greater numbers of students in a school pledged.
Among 15-year-olds, 82 percent of the non-pledgers were virgins, compared to 90 percent of pledgers. At 16, 68 percent of non-pledgers had abstained, while 79 percent of the pledgers were still virgin.
At age 17, half of the non-pledgers had initiated sex, while 65 percent of pledgers had not. CNN