NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Teenagers who take pledges to remain virgins until marriage are likely to deny having taken the pledge if they later become sexually active. Conversely, those who were sexual active before taking the pledge frequency deny their sexual history, according to new study findings. These findings imply that virginity pledgers often provide unreliable data, making assessment of abstinence-based sex education programs unreliable. In addition, these teens may also underestimate their risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.This makes perfect sense to me. With the level of pressure applied to teens to take virginity pledges and the consequences of being seen as sinful (even when done in a secular setting like a public school) the virginity pledge cannot be seen as the same as making an informed decision.
As to the lying, it may come from the pressures teens face from adults and how they respond to those pressures. My responses as a teen swung back and forth between open rebellion and denial. Both of those frequently resulted in dishonesty.
I think the pledges are a bad idea because pledges inherently ignore issues like sexual abuse and rape and that omission can make victims feel like they robbed their future spouse of the gift of virginity. And if all the emphasis is on virginity rather than self-care and respect for others, teens who have "lost" their virginity may feel they have been labeled as bad or sinful so what's the point in trying to be good.
Frequently victims of rape and abuse are told by their rapists and their abusers that they are responsible (to keep victims silent) and if that message is echoed in abstinence-only sex education programs, the impact can be horrific.
I know this because after I lost my virginity through rape I felt this way. That, combined with anger I didn't know how to channel, led to behavior that seemed to confirm my badness.
This emphasis on virginity without serious discussion of rape and abuse also alienates teens from the very people who are trying to reach them. If teens see that what they are being told contains dishonesty or hypocrisy or obvious flaws, they may consider the whole package they are being given as one big sham.
And if a program is seen as a sham, teens have no reason to believe they can drop their defenses and be absolutely honest.
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