Creative Destruction

May 8, 2006

Anxious Grownups Unclear on the Concept

Filed under: Current Events,Popular Culture — mythago @ 11:31 am

There’s been a lot of argument about whether ‘virginity pledges’ really keep teens from engaging in sex (at least in the Clintonian sense). A Harvard report has found that teenagers may be muddling the data by not being, shall we say, completely honest about their behavior.

The study by Janet Rosenbaum took data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which interviewed and later re-interviewed teenagers about their sexual behavior, including whether they made a ‘virginity pledge’. Setting aside the data about how well the pledges are kept, we get two very interesting findings:

–Of the teenagers who told the first survey that they had taken a pledge and then later had sex, in later surveys, 73% denied ever having made the pledge in the first place.

–Of the teenagers who had sex and then took a pledge, nearly a third denied, post-pledge, that they had ever had sex.

–Ultimately, 17% of pledgers keep their pledge and don’t lie about having made one in the first place.

Teenagers want to have sex, engage in magical thinking and aren’t very good about keeping promises about what they’ll do in the next several years. Shocking! I guess it is to social conservatives. They’re probably the same people who freak out when their kids say “I’ll take the garbage out in five minutes, Dad” and then don’t.

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10 Comments »

  1. Social conservatives who equate teenage sexual abstinence with raised morality pretty much set up those teenagers for failure, which later deforms into association of sexual behavior with guilt (possibly mirroring adults’ own failure to quell their own instinctual imperatives). It’s a negative message, as opposed to a sex-positive approach.

    A better hope might be for true sex education, based on responsibility, discretion, and an abundance of accurate information. Instead, values espoused by social conservatives, which dominates adolescent sexual education, are mediated by politics and, as a result, distorted. Too bad for all of us, really, because it’s hard to develop healthy sexuality with all the mixed messages. Repressed feelings resurface as unhealthy sexuality, which can’t be good.

    Comment by Brutus — May 8, 2006 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  2. All a parent can do to help steer clear of unhealthy habits/choices, in my view, is to know where you kid is, and keep as active a role in their life as you can without encroaching on their space.

    The fact is, they are going to make mistakes, and unlike the “sexual repression is bad for you” crowd, I happen to think that having sex that early on is a mistake, and can be avoided. I also think that it’s more important to let the kid know that it’s expected that they will make mistakes, and that no matter how dire the consequences the parents will be there to help sort them out.

    In other words, there’s no need to bend over in terms of what you consider the right choices to be, nor should you burn your bridges in the difficult attempt to guide your kids towards those choices.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 8, 2006 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  3. the “sexual repression is bad for you” crowd

    But they’re such darn useful strawmen!

    Comment by mythago — May 8, 2006 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

  4. […] Creative Destruction: “Virginity Pledgers” Lie About Having Sex and Having Pledged […]

    Pingback by Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Link Farm & Open Thread #23 — May 8, 2006 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  5. Hey, I’ll stand up and be a “sexual repression is bad for you” strawman, ’cause it is. Lay it on, brother.

    Comment by Brutus — May 8, 2006 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  6. bout whether ‘virginity pledges’ really keep teens from engaging in sex

    Being fat does. I can vouch for that one.

    So look at it this way: the supposed epidemic of childhood obesity could have an up side!

    Comment by ms.havisham — May 8, 2006 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  7. Brutus, the strawman here is that Adam is conflating ‘sexual repression’ with ‘not insisting teens put off sex until marriage’.

    Comment by mythago — May 9, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  8. Teenagers want to have sex, engage in magical thinking and aren’t very good about keeping promises about what they’ll do in the next several years.

    Sounds like an excellent argument for adult control over teen sexuality.

    Comment by Robert — May 9, 2006 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  9. Brutus, the strawman here is that Adam is conflating ’sexual repression’ with ‘not insisting teens put off sex until marriage’.

    Whuh? I thought I was conflating sexual repression with “not having sex when you want to…thereby…repressing the urge”?

    I am lost.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 9, 2006 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  10. Personally i think that teenagers now a days should learn how to keep their legs closed. so that when they get older they can have somethin for their husbands. I also think that it is very relevent that we continue to keep things on top and to remain focus on the situation at hand. Futhermore i also engage that the teens of this era need to be enrolled in things that will keep them busy!!! One more thing i also would appreciate if we continue to give each other new things to work on thanks!!!!

    Comment by Delphine Fordham — November 21, 2006 @ 4:06 pm | Reply


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