Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence, and they are significantly less likely to use birth control when they do, according to a study.
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." The percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or STDs was 10 points lower for pledgers than for nonpledgers.
The report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. Congress and the incoming Obama administration are about to reconsider the more than $176 million in annual funding for abstinence-focused programs.