This sign hanging over E. 14th Street between Estudillo and Davis in San Leandro, advertises an April 30, 2005 abstinence workshop at the Creekside Community Church.
While few condone adolescent sex that results in pregancy or sexually-transmitted diseases (STD), supporters of abstinence should familiarize themselves with the results of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally-funded study that tracked more than 10,000 children from 7th to 12th grade for about eight years.
The study shows that those who pledge abstinence are almost as likely to contract an STD as those who do not make an abstinence pledge. In addition, those who pledge abstinence are more likely to engage in oral and anal sex and are less likely to use condoms when they begin engaging in sexual activity.
At least part of the explanation appears to be that virginity pledge programs preach abstinence to the exclusion of information regarding condoms, contraception, and sexual health. Predictably, supporters of abstinence pledges, including National Abstinence Clearinghouse, dispute the results of the study.
On the positive side (for parents at least), those who pledged abstinence begin engaging sexual activity 18 months later than those who didn't pledge abstinence and had fewer sexual partners.
Caveat emptor to those who would blindly encourage their children to pledge abstinence. Teenagers appear to be "saving" their virginity by engaging in oral and anal sex. I'm not sure that's a good thing.