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.

Download full-text


Available from: Janet E Rosenbaum
  • Source
    • "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 "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to explore adolescent dating relationships through the prism of high school girls' narratives. We probed the contexts and meanings associated with different forms of dating to better understand the developmental significance of romantic relationships during adolescence. Cross-sectional, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 high school females. The analytic approach was phenomenological and grounded in the narratives rather than based on an a priori theoretical framework. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim by research staff and entered into ATLAS.ti 6, a qualitative data-management software package, prior to analysis. Teen relationships were found to vary along a Dis-Continuum from casual hookups to "official" boyfriend/girlfriend. There was a lack of consensus, and much ambiguity, as to the substantive meaning of different relationships. Labeling dating relationships seem to facilitate acquisition of important developmental needs such as identity, affiliation, and status, while attempting to manage cognitive dissonance and emotional disappointments. Findings underscore the confusion and complexity surrounding contemporary adolescent dating. Adolescent girls are using language and social media to assist them in meeting developmental goals. Sometimes their dating labels are adaptive, other times they are a cause of stress, or concealment of unmet needs and thwarted desires. Programs focused on positive youth development need to resonate with the realities of teens' lives and more fully acknowledge the complicated dynamics of teen dating relationships and how they are formalized, publicized and negotiated.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · The Journal of Primary Prevention
  • Source
    • "It encourages remedial courses over occupational courses, which actually could be taken together or in sequence. It regards backup options as negative, but they actually can lead to good jobs, degree ladders, and student confidence in a payoff (Rosenbaum, et al, 2006, p. 191). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Research from the 1960s shows that high school counselors acted as gatekeepers to limit college access, and community college counselors engaged in cooling out that is, dampening students’ ambitious plans and convincing them to reduce their goals of attending 4-year colleges. This research may have had some impact, since today many counselors deplore such actions and advise differently. Rather than cooling out students, guidance counselors now use new practices that encourage low-achieving students to pursue high-track 4-year-college pathways despite a low likelihood of payoffs, while ignoring alternate degrees with better outcomes, fewer academic demands, and shorter timetables. The perfectionist model can help us understand this new approach. This model, originally described in studies of the sexual abstinence movement, is used here to identify comparable features in the BA-for-all movement. Perfectionist advice poses high ideals, but also leads to high rates of predictable failures, and failure is more damaging because it precludes realistic back-up options. We review several studies that find educators recommending idealistic goals with high failure rates, sometimes as high as 80%. High goals should not be abandoned, but we must be aware of the limitations of perfectionist models and the importance of more complex advice, multiple options, and back-up plans. We propose three kinds of sociological analyses that could inform educators about the stratification implications of their well-intentioned actions and suggest more complex goals and procedures that would be more candid and perhaps lead to better outcomes.
    Preview · Chapter · Dec 2010
  • Source
    • "For both lifetime recanting and sexual debut date revision, males reported higher rates [12]. Rosenbaum [13] discovered that over half of youth who report taking a virginity pledge at an earlier time denied they ever made such a pledge 1 year later. And, youth who rescinded virginity pledges were four times as likely to rescind sexual experience (i.e., they became ''born again virgins''). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Self-reports are the standard measure of STD history used in survey research. We explored to what extent self-reports of ever having an STD are recanted in a follow-up data collection. Using the National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM), we assessed consistency over time in self-reports of ever having an STD in a sample of young men transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood (aged 15-26 years), a population in which STDs are particularly prevalent. Approximately 7% of all sexually experienced young men rescinded STD self-reports over time. Thus, self-reports at one point in time likely underestimate true STD history, using earlier self-reports as the criterion. Among men who ever report an STD, 94-98% recant their reports in later waves. Knowledge of the extent of underreporting can potentially be used to adjust cross-sectional estimates of STDs based on survey self-reports. These study findings move us one step closer to estimating just how much underreporting of STDs in self-reports is.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2009 · Journal of Adolescent Health
Show more