Below is a Washington Post article with very distorted "research" about
abstinence-until-marriage education programs.
Following the article are two commentaries on its claims.
Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds
Teenagers Who Make Such Promises Are Just as Likely to Have Sex, and Less
Likely to Use Protection, the Data Indicate
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A02
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to
have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are
significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control
when they do, according to a study released today.
The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than
half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether
they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took
precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points
lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual
behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of
Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal
Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other
forms of birth control that is quite striking."
The study is the latest in a series that have raised questions about
programs that focus on encouraging abstinence until marriage, including
those that specifically ask students to publicly declare their intention to
remain virgins. The new analysis, however, goes beyond earlier analyses by
focusing on teens who had similar values about sex and other issues before
they took a virginity pledge.
"Previous studies would compare a mixture of apples and oranges," Rosenbaum
said. "I tried to pull out the apples and compare only the apples to other
The findings are reigniting the debate about the effectiveness of
abstinence-focused sexual education just as Congress and the new Obama
administration are about to reconsider the more than $176 million in annual
funding for such programs.
"This study again raises the issue of why the federal government is
continuing to invest in abstinence-only programs," said Sarah Brown of the
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "What have we
gained if we only encourage young people to delay sex until they are older,
but then when they do become sexually active -- and most do well before
marriage -- they don't protect themselves or their partners?"
James Wagoner of the advocacy group Advocates for Youth agreed: "The
Democratic Congress needs to get its head out of the sand and get real about
sex education in America."
Proponents of such programs, however, dismissed the study as flawed and
argued that programs that focus on abstinence go much further than simply
asking youths to make a one-time promise to remain virgins.
"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," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education
Rosenbaum analyzed data collected by the federal government's National
Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which gathered detailed information
from a representative sample of about 11,000 students in grades seven
through 12 in 1995, 1996 and 2001.
Although researchers have analyzed data from that survey before to examine
abstinence education programs, the new study is the first to use a more
stringent method to account for other factors that could influence the
teens' behavior, such as their attitudes about sex before they took the
Rosenbaum focused on about 3,400 students who had not had sex or taken a
virginity pledge in 1995. She compared 289 students who were 17 years old on
average in 1996, when they took a virginity pledge, with 645 who did not
take a pledge but were otherwise similar. She based that judgment on about
100 variables, including their attitudes and their parents' attitudes about
sex and their perception of their friends' attitudes about sex and birth
"This study came about because somebody who decides to take a virginity
pledge tends to be different from the average American teenager. The
pledgers tend to be more religious. They tend to be more conservative. They
tend to be less positive about sex. There are some striking differences,"
Rosenbaum said. "So comparing pledgers to all non-pledgers doesn't make a
lot of sense."
By 2001, Rosenbaum found, 82 percent of those who had taken a pledge had
retracted their promises, and there was no significant difference in the
proportion of students in both groups who had engaged in any type of sexual
activity, including giving or receiving oral sex, vaginal intercourse, the
age at which they first had sex, or their number of sexual partners. More
than half of both groups had engaged in various types of sexual activity,
had an average of about three sexual partners and had had sex for the first
time by age 21 even if they were unmarried.
"It seems that pledgers aren't really internalizing the pledge," Rosenbaum
said. "Participating in a program doesn't appear to be motivating them to
change their behavior. It seems like abstinence has to come from an
individual conviction rather than participating in a program."
While there was no difference in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases
in the two groups, the percentage of students who reported condom use was
about 10 points lower for those who had taken the pledge, and they were
about 6 percentage points less likely to use any form of contraception. For
example, about 24 percent of those who had taken a pledge said they always
used a condom, compared with about 34 percent of those who had not.
Rosenbaum attributed the difference to what youths learn about condoms in
"There's been a lot of work that has found that teenagers who take part in
abstinence-only education have more negative views about condoms," she said.
"They tend not to give accurate information about condoms and birth
But Huber disputed that charge.
"Abstinence education programs provide accurate information on the level of
protection offered through the typical use of condoms and contraception,"
she said. "Students understand that while condoms may reduce the risk of
infection and/or pregnancy, they do not remove the risk."
From National Abstinence Education Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New "Virginity Pledge" Study Draws Inaccurate Conclusions and
Mischaracterizes Abstinence Education
CONTACT: NAEA at 202 248 5420
or email NAEA at info@AbstinenceAssociation.org for a more timely response
December 29, 2008, Washington, DC
NAEA strongly disputes the conclusions reported in the Rosenbaum virginity
Valerie Huber, executive director of NAEA, remarks, "The author inaccurately
equates the holistic breadth of an abstinence education program to the
one-time event of a virginity pledge. A pledge and an abstinence program are
not synonymous. Further, the author makes incorrect inferences for the
entire population based on very limited research."
The author compared two groups that were almost identical in terms of
predisposed life skills. The only difference is that one group pledged and
one did not.
Huber adds, "This study looked only at individuals who have specific skills
that are taught or reinforced in an abstinence program, so we are not at all
surprised that they abstained about 4 years longer than their peers. This
study simply reinforces the need to continue the skill building practices
found in a typical abstinence-centered class."
For the sample group, the mean age of sexual debut was 21, making this group
completely non-representative of the general population. The mean age for
sexual debut for the general population is about 4 years before this age at
Huber concludes: "The numerous and serious inaccuracies and deliberate
mischaracterizations made by the author regarding abstinence education call
into question her objectivity as a researcher and throws suspicion on the
entire research she has conducted."
From Donna Garner,Texas education researcher:
My response to Washington Post article, Dec. 29, 2008 (posted below):
"Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective" -- study done by Janet E.
Rosenbaum: We can expect to see a steady deluge of such "studies" under the
Obama/Rep. Henry Waxman administration. One slight problem with Janet E.
Rosenbaum's "study" of abstinence pledges is that her information is
predicated on information gained between 1995 and 2001, before the
abstinence-only funding and accompanying curricula actually began to
increase in the public schools under the Bush administration.
Abstinence-only organizations have improved their materials tremendously
during the 2000's and most have made sure they are now much more medically
based than before the Bush administration came into office with its improved
Ironically Rosenbaum's "study" actually proves nothing about what is
happening in today's classrooms under the new-and-improved abstinence-only
curricula. She unwisely tries to apply her results to today's current
population of teens based upon outdated information taken from 7 to 13 years
ago. Has our culture changed much since 7 to 13 years ago? Is our country
more saturated with sexualized content now than it was 7 to 13 years ago?
Have schools changed their approach in their sex education curricula from
the approach that was used 7 to 13 years ago? Is Rosenbaum's study really
comparing "apples to apples" as she claims?
Even though the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (ADD
Health) has produced some interesting data, it is still based upon
interviews with the respondents (mostly teens and young adults). Has every
interviewee been totally honest? Can we trust immature teenagers to be
absolutely honest or to be consistent from one day to the next? Do they
even know their own minds from one day to the next? How many of them have
tried to exaggerate their sexual exploits to the interviewer? Has every
interviewee had the medical knowledge to make judgments about sexual issues,
or have interviewees made their comments based upon their limited and faulty
"medical knowledge" taken from the pop culture? How can interviewees
comment about whether they have STD's when many of these diseases do not
surface until years later and/or the diseased individuals do not even know
they carry the STD's?
To be perfectly honest, ADD Health is based upon the respondents' opinions
and whether respondents have been totally honest and knowledgeable. In a
society that is replete with young people who lie, cheat, manipulate, and
justify their own actions, I believe it is risky to base too many important
decisions on the interviewees in ADD Health.
Rosenbaum and the incoming administration want to de-emphasize the
abstinence-only message and in its place plan to offer teens condoms and
other contraceptives. Please remember that most contraceptives that offer
protection against pregnancy do not protect against STD's at all.
Rosenbaum does not focus her research on the prevalence of STD's as
documented by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health
organizations that provide medical data. According to the latest report from
the Centers for Disease Control
(http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm), condoms do not offer
"safe sex" against genital infections [e.g., genital herpes, syphilis,
chancroid, human papillomavirus -- HPV] because these infections can be
transmitted by exposure to areas (e.g., infected skin or mucosal surfaces)
that are not covered or protected by the condom.
Besides that, condoms give teens a false sense of security. Not only are
they not effective against many of the STD's, but it is almost impossible in
real life conditions to use condoms correctly and consistently. Here is what
the CDC says:
How to Use a Condom Consistently and Correctly:
--Use a new condom for every act of vaginal, anal and oral sex—throughout
the entire sex act (from start to finish).
--Before any genital contact, put the condom on the tip of the erect penis
with the rolled side out.
--If the condom does not have a reservoir tip, pinch the tip enough to leave
a half-inch space for semen to collect. Holding the tip, unroll the condom
all the way to the base of the erect penis.
--After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, grip the rim of the
condom and carefully withdraw. Then gently pull the condom off the penis,
making sure that semen doesn't spill out.
--Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the trash where others won't
--If you feel the condom break at any point during sexual activity, stop
immediately, withdraw, remove the broken condom, and put on a new condom.
--Ensure that adequate lubrication is used during vaginal and anal sex,
which might require water-based lubricants such as K-Y JellyTM,
AstroglideTM, AquaLubeTM, and glycerin. Oil-based lubricants (e.g.,
petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and
cooking oil) should not be used because they can weaken latex, causing
Are Americans going to be satisfied to have their children misled by the
"safe sex" message of the incoming Obama administration when "safe sex" is
indeed not safe? Abstinence until marriage and then living in a monogamous
relationship between one man and one woman is the safest and healthiest
message, and it is this message that our children need to hear in their sex
education classes. It is this message that needs to be supported with our
Go to www.missionamerica.com to read about the anarchy of the Prop 8
protests, and "12 Astounding Facts About HIV and AIDS."
Get your children out of the public schools NOW, or start today fighting
anti-Christian, pro-homosexual teaching!
For the latest news about the homosexual agenda in our schools, go to our
companion web site,
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