Saturday, March 19, 2005

The abstinence boogey

You can do it in the kitchen
You can do it on the floor
You can do it in the bathroom behind the door
It’s the abstinence boogey

A telling tale from the Globe and Mail


Although many avoided vaginal intercourse to "technically preserve their virginity," Prof. Bruckner said, they were more likely than their counterparts to have oral and anal sex, and to do so without condoms.

"If [pledgers] do have sex, they go into this experience with the idea that, 'Oh nothing can protect me anyway, so why even bother to think about uncomfortable stuff and gross stuff like condoms.' That's the problem."

As a result, those who took virginity pledges had similar rates of STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, as their counterparts who did not vow to remain virgins until marriage. Of the non-pledgers, 6.9 per cent had STDs, compared with 4.6 per cent of those who did pledge their virginity. (The difference is not statistically valid because it is lower than the margin-of-error estimate, Prof. Bruckner said.)

Another reason behind the findings may be that parents and doctors and other health professionals believe discussing contraceptives and STD tests is unnecessary with those who make virginity pledges.

As well, such adolescents "might just not perceive their risk in the right terms," she said. They also have a compelling reason to keep their activities secret.

"If young people take a public virginity pledge to remain virgins until marriage, having sex before marriage means that they break their pledge. Thus, sexually-active pledgers have a greater incentive than non-pledgers to hide that they are having sex," the study says.

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