The study concluded that making a pledge had no effect on teenager’s sexual behaviour. It found that 82% of pledgers had broken (this includes oral or vaginal sex) their pledge. Indeed, people who pledged were more likely to engage in unsafe sex and not use contraceptives. People had an average of three partners. This shows that they were consciously deciding to have sex, and that it is not the result of “a little mistake”.
This study attempted to control for possible confounding variables that may have obscured any relationship between pledging and sexual activity. The study focused on 289 people who had pledged, and compared them with 645 similar students who had not pledged. All in all, pledgers were more likely to be from conservative families.
As usual, crazy consies are disputing a study they don’t like. Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association stated:
It is remarkable that an author who employs rigorous research methodology would then compromise those standards by making wild, ideologically tainted and inaccurate analysis regarding the content of abstinence education programs.
Ms. Huber is committing the straw man fallacy. She criticizes the study for focusing on what abstinence programs contain, when in actuality the study focused on the impact of virginity pledges. It is misleading of her to criticize the study by claiming it is something that it is not, although to be fair many abstinence programs probably have virginity pledges.
The article also reported that the United States Congress is set to examine whether to renew or alter the $176 million in funding such programs receive. Don’t get me wrong, abstinence is great, if people actually do it. Since it is abundantly clear that telling people not to have sex doesn’t make them stay abstinent, this ignorance-only sex education should stop. It should be replaced with comprehensive sex education.
Why then is there such a big deal among consies in favour of abstinence education? I suspect that part of the reason is due to religion “fornication is evil” belief. Another is probably a basic fear of sex. Yet another is denial that the sex instinct is natural and perfectly normal. But the best word on this goes to Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon, who said in a comment (same page as the hat tip):
I maintain that the point of abstinence-only was never to get kids to avoid sex altogether. Not that the fundies wouldn’t like that, but it was, at best, a side benefit if a few kids did avoid it. No, the real reason was precisely to shame them and keep them ignorant so that when they did have sex, they got knocked up and had to get married. Sort of a fuck you to the young’uns, like, “If I can’t have a happy, fulfilling marriage, neither can you.”