Reborn a Virgin: Adolescents’ Retracting of Virginity Pledges and Sexual Histories

Harvard Statistics Department, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 07/2006; 96(6):1098-103. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.063305
Source: PubMed


We examined retractions of virginity pledges and of sexual histories among adolescents taking part in waves 1 and 2 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Logistic regression analyses were used to compare respondents' reports of virginity pledges and sexual histories at waves 1 and 2.Results. Among wave 1 virginity pledgers, 53% denied having made a pledge at wave 2; after control for confounders, pledgers who subsequently initiated sexual activity were 3 times as likely to deny having made a pledge as those who did not initiate sexual activity (odds ratio [OR] = 3.21; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.04, 5.04). Among wave 1 nonvirgins who subsequently took virginity pledges, 28% retracted their sexual histories at wave 2; respondents who took virginity pledges were almost 4 times as likely as those who did not to retract reports of sexual experience (OR=3.88; 95% CI=1.87, 8.07).
Adolescents who initiate sexual activity are likely to recant virginity pledges, whereas those who take pledges are likely to recant their sexual histories. Thus, evaluations of sexual abstinence programs are vulnerable to unreliable data. In addition, virginity pledgers may incorrectly assess the sexually transmitted disease risks associated with their prepledge sexual behavior.

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    • "A growing concern with adolescent sexual behavior research is ambiguity in the operational meaning of various sex-related terms, particularly those incorporated into epidemiologic surveys of risk behaviors. A significant proportion of data purporting to accurately gauge prevalence of adolescent sexual behaviors may be not only incomplete , but materially flawed (Brener et al., 2002; Rosenbaum, 2006; Sawyer, Howard, Brewster, Gavin, & Sherman, 2007 "
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