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Swearing Off Sex: Statistics Show Most Teen Abstinence Vows Are Abandoned

January 27, 2010

Most teens who pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage break that vow within five years, studies show. Therefore, when former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter renewed her pledge recently before millions of "Oprah Winfrey Show" viewers, some experts responded skeptically.

Bristol Palin's pregnancy was announced just days after Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose the governor to be his 2008 running mate. On the show, Bristol declined Winfrey’s suggestion that she might take the opportunity to reconsider her abstinence pledge.

Winfrey asked whether Bristol had set an unrealistic goal. "It's a realistic goal for myself," the 19-year-old said.

"It may be 10 years before you get married," Winfrey said. "Why set yourself up so that everybody you go out with, you date -- the media is going to be looking at that person, trying to get that person to sell you out, to say, 'Did you have sex or not?' It’s nobody’s business when you chose to have sex."

"Abstinence works when it is used consistently and correctly," said Monica Rodriguez, vice president for training and education for the Sexuality and Information Council of the United States. "The problem is that abstinence isn’t always used correctly, and when it fails, it has a really high failure rate."

However, abstinence-only sex education rarely discusses the proper use of condoms and other contraceptive means to avoid STDs and pregnancy, Rodriguez said. That discussion should begin at home. "Parents are the most important people in kids' lives in terms of this," she said. "You have to share your values."

Back to other news for January 2010

Adapted from:
ABC News
01.25.2010; Russell Goldman, Sarah Netter

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Abstinence Programs


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