March 19, 2005 in Nation/World

Study: Teens who pledge abstinence engaging in riskier sexual behavior

Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, an eight-year study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study found that teens pledging virginity are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.

Leslee Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., called the study “bogus,” disputing that those involved had pledged true “abstinence.”

Critics say the pledges need to be coupled with sex education to be effective.

Last year, the same team found that 88 percent of teens who pledge abstinence end up having sex before marriage.

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