Thursday, January 08, 2009

Here’s another one for the “Mainstream media and leftwing bloggers are too lazy to read the study before commenting on it” file.

This time William McGurn digs a little deeper into that recent “Virginity Pledges Don’t Work” study.
What Dr. Healy was getting at is that the pledge itself is not what distinguishes these kids from most other teenagers. The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. As she notes, when you compare both groups in this study with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking. Here are just a few:

- These teens generally have less risky sex, i.e., fewer sexual partners.

- These teens are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy, or to have friends who use drugs.

- These teens have less premarital vaginal sex.

- When these teens lose their virginity they tend to do so at age 21 -- compared to 17 for the typical American teen.

- And very much overlooked, one out of four of these teens do in fact keep the pledge to remain chaste -- amid much cheap ridicule and just about zero support outside their homes or churches.

Let's put this another way. The real headline from this study is this: "Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge."
What really gets me in the whole abstinence vs. comprehensive sex education debate is how both sides seem to overlook the importance parents and background play in a young person’s decision-making about sex. It's like they both think a week long (or less) course is going to dramatically alter how teens think about sex when that course's influence is incredibly small in comparison to years and years of parental and peer influence.

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