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March 10, 2004

I'm Shocked -- Shocked -- That Gambling Is Going On In This Establishment

Surprise! Teenage pledges of abstinence are barely worth the paper they're written on.

U.S. adolescents who pledge not to have sex until they are married have about the same rate of sexually transmitted diseases as other teenagers and they often fail to keep their pledge, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study of a nationally representative sample of about 15,000 youths aged 12 to 18 found that 88 percent of teenagers who pledged to remain virgins until they are married ended up having sex before marriage.

Speaking as man who worked at a co-ed Christian camp for seven years, I find that fact totally unsurprising. In fact, I'll bet that if anything, all the pledge did for those who actually remembered it come the crisis was to increase the enjoyable frission of the moment. Guilt overcome is a heady spice indeed.

But what about the gambling, you ask? Teen sex is admittedly somewhat mildly interesting, but you promised there would be gambling!

The study, funded largely by the National Institutes of Health, found that these teenagers were also less likely to use condoms when they did have sex because they had not paid attention to sex education.

Because of their ignorance about sexually transmitted diseases, "pledgers" were also less likely to seek medical help if they contracted one of the diseases, according to the study unveiled at a Philadelphia conference on sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs.

There's blowback someone should have expected. If the algebra teacher tells the class that "No, you won't need to know this in real life," then when the time comes to solve for x, no one will be able to. It's the same deal with abstinence.

Yes, the 18 month average delay before the onset of doing the nasty is a great thing from a parent's pont of view--though in my days as a teenage male I expect I would have not prized it quite as highly.* But it's hardly worth the lowered likelihood of birth control when the raging hormones take control.

Now what might work better is to combine the pledge with... not only birth control, but birth control that reminds the recipient of the pledge in the moment of crisis.

"Billy Sue, Bobby Jim, I'm mighty proud of ya'll for having signed this here pledge stating that ya'll are going to remain virgins until you enter the holy state of matrimony. Jesus is proud of you, too. But he knows that 'all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God' and so just in case, he'd like you to have these here condoms with his picture on one side and John 11:35 on t'other. Iffen ya'll just got to have relations one night...well, you'ns are gonna have to rip up the Lord in order to sin."

It could hardly work worse.

*In fact, I was a right bastard, my philosophy of life then being "Honey, there are girls just as pretty and interesting as you, and they will do it," a position that is as true now as it was then. However, in order for it to work, it must only be implied, never stated.

Postscript: Should I have used a slightly photoshopped version of this picture instead? I was severely tempted to, I must admit.

Posted by Bigwig at March 10, 2004 11:23 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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